The Best Player in Women’s Soccer Is Skipping the World Cup

Hegerberg is not injured, nor did her country fail to qualify. Instead, she is sticking to a decision she made to two years ago to quit her own national team out of long-simmering frustration with Norway’s soccer leaders.

“It is about respect,” she told Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten in late 2016, months before she finally renounced international soccer. “And I think that women’s football does not have the respect it should have in Norway.”

The last straw for Hegerberg was the team’s disastrous campaign at the 2017 European Championship. The two-time winners of the tournament finished with no points and no goals. Going forward, she decided, that would also mean no Hegerberg.

On her way out, she bemoaned inequalities in investment in men’s and women’s soccer, particularly at the youth and club levels where she felt opportunities were skewed toward developing boys. According to interviews she gave to the Norwegian press at the time, she was also unimpressed with the level of ambition inside the national team setup. Her energy, she said, was better spent focusing on her club soccer with Lyon.

In Norway, where the women’s team historically has been far more successful than the men, Hegerberg’s parting shot made national news. Hegerberg had broken into the lineup when she was just 16. By the time she was 22, she appeared in national ad campaigns as a Norway player for three different sponsors. She averaged better than a goal every two games, putting her on pace to break Norway’s scoring record long before her 30th birthday.

And yet, she told the Norwegian press, “I always felt I was a worse player when I got home from national team camps. That shouldn’t be.”

Through her agent, Hegerberg declined to rehash her precise reasons for the split and didn’t comment for this article. But while the story is old news in Norway, the World Cup starting on June 7 has put the spotlight back on the dispute. Two years on, many in the sport still can’t quite believe that she would skip the chance to star on women’s soccer’s biggest stage.

“Why exactly is Hegerberg not playing with Norway?” former U.S. national team player Heather O’Reilly tweeted after Norway unveiled its Hegerberg-less roster this month. “If Messi or Ronaldo opted to not play in a World Cup the world would know why not with clarity.”

U.S. striker Alex Morgan replied, “I would like to know as well.”

Since Hegerberg’s exit, the Norwegian federation has undertaken radical changes. In late 2017, it committed to paying both of its senior national teams equally, with the men’s team giving up a portion of its fees to make up the difference. Then, last summer, Norway became one of the few federations in the world to appoint a woman, ex-player and practicing lawyer Lise Klaveness, as technical director of the men’s and women’s national programs.

But Hegerberg’s complaints run deeper. She has said in the past that the mentality of the elite program was too restrictive, that the ceiling was too low. Klaveness has made it a priority to convince her that things had evolved. After all, she knew where Hegerberg was coming from: Klaveness herself had quit the national team between 2007 and 2010. The last time they spoke was at a meeting in January.

“It was an open conversation, but she made it clear that she had made a choice and the consequence of that choice was not to go to the World Cup,” Klaveness said. And while Norway respected Hegerberg’s decision, Klaveness added that she hoped she might reconsider down the road.

Except over the past two years, Norway and Hegerberg have thrived without each other. Though the team remains far off the heights it reached in the early 1990s, it sailed through World Cup qualifying and even knocked off the defending European champion Netherlands once along the way.

As for Hegerberg, she has continued to scale new heights with Lyon, a French superpower that has turned serious investment by its owner into 13 consecutive league titles. She has twice been voted BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year. Last December, Hegerberg collected the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or award as the top player in the game—although the ceremony was briefly interrupted by a bizarre and insulting incident in which a French DJ asked her on stage if she knew how to twerk. She put him in his place with a firm, “No.”

“He could have asked something different,” Hegerberg said after the sexist remark went viral. “Like how it felt to win the Ballon d’Or or a question about football.”

The Rise of the Haphazard Self

How working-class men detach from work, family and church.

Their private lives are as loosely attached as their economic lives. Many of the men expressed the desire to be good fathers to their children — to be more emotionally expressive around their kids than their own fathers had been with them. But they expressed no similar commitment to the women who had given birth to those children. Some found out they were fathers only years after their children were born.

“Nearly all the men we spoke to viewed the father-child tie as central while the partner relationship was more peripheral,” Edin and her colleagues write. Naturally, if the men are unwilling to commit to being in a full family unit, the role they actually end up playing in their children’s lives is much more minimal than the role they really want.

The men are also loosely attached to churches. Most say they are spiritual or religious. But their conception of faith is so individualized that there is nobody else they could practice it with. They pray but tend to have contempt for organized religion and do not want to tie themselves down to any specific community.

I treat church just like I treat my girlfriends,” one man said. “I’ll stick around for a while and then I’ll go on to the next one.”

Modern Motherhood

Just ahead of Mother’s Day, Molly Millwood, Ph.D. in clinical psychology on the faculty at Saint Michael’s College in Vermont and the author of To Have and to Hold: Motherhood, Marriage, and the Modern Dilemma (Harper Wave, 2019), offers a psychologist’s insights into the often unsettling terrain of new motherhood.

Mothers have a different experience with time.  Their husbands often don’t loose the same amount of leisure time.

Even with supportive fathers, there is still a disparity between the amount of time demands on fathers and mothers.

What a sex worker can teach us about human connection | Nicole Emma | TEDxSaltLakeCity

“In a society that values strong, stoic alpha males, where can a man find space to be vulnerable? Nicole Emma, a sex worker with 18 years of experience, gives a unique perspective on men’s need for connection. About the speaker: Nicole Emma is a relationship and intimacy coach, and sex worker.” What can the people at the edges of society teach us about ourselves? About Love? Cultivated through a life of connecting with people at the edges of our community, Nicole shares a message of unconditional love and acceptance. She has an insatiable curiosity about people, how we think and how we work, especially those outside the boundaries of cultural norms and programming. It’s this desire to truly SEE people that led Nicole to a vibrant career in the sex industry. Drawing from 18 years in sex work, Nicole observes noteworthy patterns of human behavior, especially those of the most vulnerable demographics, while providing a space for them to experience authentic connection without judgment. Bringing to the public dialog a call to shift societal expectations and address our own biases, Nicole speaks out about how we unintentionally create a fearful and angry society, and how we can shift back into curiosity, balance, and love. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx
9:30 Healthy Manhood is about:
  • facing fears
  • overcoming challenges
  • living with compassion