I recently heard that the best footballer in the world, Ada Hegerberg, has decided not to play in this year's World Cup for her country, Norway, because of what she describes as a lack of respect for women's football in Norway.
How is this not bigger news?
If any of the world's biggest players decided not to go to a World Cup for discrimination in the game, would it not lead to changes in the way the game is managed???
But not in football!
Remember that Ms. Hegerberg is from Norway, a country where women have a higher degree of equality than in other countries. So just think about some of the other countries, where outright discrimination is more or less taken for granted: Colombia, where the football association does not even take care of their female national team; the World Champions of USA, who are grossly underpaid by their male counterparts (who did not even make it to the World Cup); Afghanistan, where players were routinely abused....
And these are just the cases we know about...
Football has long traditions of discrimination for reasons of race, nationality, political allegiance, sexual orientation, and not least gender, where women's football was even prohibited until not long ago, and misogynistic comments are so common as to be institutionalized in the entire game (remember how it was ok to ask Ms, Hegerberg to twerk after winning the Balon d'Or!?).
And despite advances over the last decade, all these things show that misogyny is not only alive, but even thrives as male chauvinism reacts against women footballers demand their rightful place alongside men in the world of football. The fact that Ms. Hegerberg has decided to fight against this by not going to the World Cup should send a strong message to the world of football: stop discriminating against the best because of their gender!
The World Cup will be weaker without Ada Hegerberg, but I hope her message resonates in a world of football where discrimination, in all its forms, is the norm, and the football world does so little to combat.
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