The biggest story on day two of the 2019 Women’s World Cup of Soccer did not appear to be about the star players who were playing, but about the star player on Norway who wasn’t. Even though Norway beat Nigeria 3-0 on goals by Guro Reiten and Lisa-Marie Karlseng Utland (and an own goal by Nigeria’s Osinachi Ohale), one could just wonder how much more Norway would have beaten Nigeria if only they had their star player Ada Hegerberg of Olympique Lyonnais.
In 105 games with her French professional team, Hegerberg has been electric as she has scored 130 goals since 2014 and became the first women’s player to win the Ballon d’Or Feminin (the best women’s football player of the year award by French Football) in 2018. Arguably the world’s best active player, Hegerberg is not playing at the 2019 Women’s World Cup of Soccer because she believes that Norwegian Soccer does not treat their women’s program equally to their men’s program.
Even though Norwegian soccer has since given equal pay between their women’s and men’s national teams, Hegerberg believes it is not enough. According to Scott Davis of the Business Insider, the Norwegian women’s soccer players do not have access to the same conditions as their male counterparts (which Hegerberg takes objection to) and that the men’s players had to take a pay cut in order for equality in income between the Norwegian men’s and women’s national team players to take place.
Now with the absence of Hegerberg, it is going to be difficult for Norway to contend with the superpowers of the tournament which include the United States, Germany and host France. There is no doubt that the Norwegians should be competitive, but it is too early to tell how much of an impact not having Hegerberg will have on this entire Norwegian squad.
In other action Saturday, Germany defeated China 1-0 on a second half goal by Giulia Gwinn. Germany was actually lucky to come away with three points as China had two great scoring chances in the first half (a shot that hit the post and another shot that just went wide).
Meanwhile, Spain beat South Africa 3-1. After South Africa opened the scoring with a first half goal by Thembi Kgatlana, Spain marched back with three second half goals including two penalty kicks by Jennifer Hermoso.