Sixty-two years after Stanley Matthews won the first Ballon d'Or, the women's game received its inaugural winner: Trailblazing Norwegian forward Ada Hegerberg.
But despite being recognised as the best female footballer in the world, the outspoken 23-year-old Hegerberg said she won’t play for Norway at the Women’s World Cup in France next June, and would be taking a break from international football.
Meanwhile, French DJ Martin Solveig, one of the hosts, sparked outrage as he asked Hegerberg to 'twerk'. Hegerberg was visibly stunned and was left unimpressed. Solveig later tweeted an apology and said Hegerberg 'understood it was a joke'.
Taking a stand against what she describes as a lack of respect for female players in Norway, Hegerberg hasn't played for the national team since it crashed out of the group stage of the Women's European Championship in 2017 without scoring a goal.
In Paris to collect her Ballon d'Or at a gala on Monday, Hegerberg said she has no plans to reconsider her decision taken to preserve her "authenticity and my values, as a person, as a footballer."
"A lot of things need to be done to make the conditions better for women who play football. It’s all about how we respect women’s football. I don’t think the respect has been there." - Ada Hegerberg
"Sometimes you have to take tough decisions to stay true to yourself. I let them know, quite clearly, what I found wasn't working," she said.
The three-time Women's Champions League winner with French team Lyon says she'll be resting during the World Cup and training for the next season with her club.
"I wish the national team the best, though. We just follow two different paths at the moment. I have no regrets with the decision I made." - Ada Hegerberg
A jury of 45 journalists picked her from among 15 nominees for the inaugural Ballon d'Or for women.
Hegerberg, who scored a tournament-record 15 Women's Champions League goals last season, said winning the trophy "tops everything" and described it as "a huge step for women's football."
"It’s not that often that I use the word ‘proud’ but today (Monday) I’m really proud." - Ada Hegerberg
But she also expressed frustration with the uneven pace of progress for women.
"Sometimes you have episodes or situations where you feel like, 'Damn, we're in such a man's world,'" she said.
"That could be in a daily situation, being a woman, to be honest. Outside of the pitch as well. There’s a lot of discussions to take and to bring on the table as a woman in 2018. Being a women’s footballer and winning the Ballon d’Or tonight (Monday) is a step for me to take that action, personally." - Ada Hegerberg
France Football magazine has been awarding the Ballon d'Or — until now only to men — since 1956, when Matthews was the first winner.
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