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Norway star claps back after FIFA president tells women to ‘pick their battles’

Norway's Ada Hegerberg returned to the World Cup this summer after sitting out of the 2019 tournament in protest over unequal treatment. (Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Ada Hegerberg, the Norway star and former Ballon d’Or winner, responded to FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s comments that women needed to “convince us men” to do “what we have to do.”

Infantino was asked about gender equality while addressing the media ahead of Sunday’s Women’s World Cup final between England and Spain, citing his four daughters in the discussion.

“I say to all the women — and you know I have four daughters, so I have a few at home — that you have the power to change,” he said. “Pick the right battles. Pick the right fights. You have the power to change. You have the power to convince us men what we have to do and what we don’t have to do. Just do it. With men, with FIFA, you’ll find open doors. Just push the doors.”

Players from multiple national teams that competed in the Women’s World Cup — including finalists Spain — have been in disputes with their federations over pay and unequal treatment. FIFA was set to pay players for their participation in the 2023 World Cup, but Infantino later clarified that the money would be doled out to federations under guidance to give it to players.

On Friday, Hegerberg hit back at Infantino’s comments, writing sarcastically on X that she was “working on a little presentation to convince men. Who’s in?”

Infantino added that FIFA was striving for equal pay between the men’s and women’s World Cups, but noted that it wouldn’t fix every issue.

“Equal pay at the World Cup? We are going in that direction already,” he said. “But that would not solve anything. It might be a symbol, but it would not solve anything, because it’s one month every four years and it’s a few players out of the thousands and thousands of players.

“We have to start treating women and men in the same way. Push the doors with FIFA, and do it at national level in every country, at continental level in every confederation, just keep pushing, keep the momentum going, keep dreaming, and let’s really go for a full equality.”

Hegerberg historically has been vocal about federations’ lack of respect for their women’s teams. The 2018 Ballon d’Or award winner famously skipped the 2019 World Cup and refused to play for Norway in protest over unequal treatment from the federation. The NFF agreed to pay their men’s and women’s teams equally in 2017, but Hegerberg held out until other demands were met.

This summer, she has continued to be an advocate for other nations in disputes with their federations. Jamaica and South Africa, in particular, had success on the field despite fighting for funding.

“More and more teams are here to show their best, and it’s tighter,” Hegerberg said. “You can see it from both sides: Are the best teams evolving in the right direction? But you see that smaller nations are coming up and are doing great work, putting their spirit into it, and it’s great to see.

“I really hope it gives more nations more opportunities and more and more federations follow, because I know there are many nations that need more following and more respect from their federations.”