Wish You Were Here
Today is the start of the World Cup. We will see most of the world’s best footballers going at it in a carnival of madness for 4 weeks.
National pride at stake, reputations lost and made, glory to be had and the depths of joy and despair await the winners and the losers.
There are, of course, notable absences - some through injury, some through choice and others through the simple fact that their nation didn’t qualify. Ballon D’or winner Ada Hegerberg is the most notable of the notable absentees. Not simply because she is the world’s best footballer but because she has taken the difficult decision not to represent Norway whilst the game is still rife with issues surrounding gender inequality.
I support her stance 100%, however I wonder if she might not have better served the cause by turning up, showing the world just how incredible the women’s game is and then using that platform in interviews, with the whole world watching, to give voice to the hand-in-glove issues of sexism and gender inequality in the sport and wider society.
She shouldn’t have to take this stance at all. She shouldn’t have to protest this. But, as it stands, this is the pitiful state of the world. Where women, in many fields, are still not perceived to be equal to men.
So she does. But the women’s game needs stars. And the World Cup will create them with the whole world finally watching.
I just wish that Ada Martine Stolsmo Hegerberg was going to be one of them. Hopefully many of these issues will be resolved by the time the next World Cup comes around in 4 years, when she will still only be 27 and quite plausibly still the best player in world football.
For now all we can do is support her and all other women in the game.
Oh - and enjoy the World Cup which is destined to be incredible. Even without one of its brightest lights.
Words by J.S. Leatherbarrow. Artwork by FATC staff - all rights reserved.