Biggest event in international soccer is missing world's best player

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As the U.S. Women’s National Team defends their 2016 World Cup title, they are also fighting a long and drawn out battle for equal pay.
Sandy Hooper, USA TODAY

REIMS, France — The world’s best player has become its most controversial.

Ada Hegerberg’s decision two years ago to stop playing for Norway is a hot topic at the World Cup, where the Norwegians play France on Wednesday in a decisive Group A game. Some pundits and former players are defending the decision by the inaugural winner of the women’s Ballon D’Or, while others have branded her as selfish or questioned why she would pass up such a big platform to air her complaints about Norway’s federation. 

Last week, Norway’s most popular men’s player effectively told Hegerberg to shut up, that all the talk about her boycott was detracting from the women still playing for the national team.

“Maybe you could find something better to do than disturb the national team’s preparations for the World Cup?” Martin Odegaard wrote on social media. “They have qualified for the World Cup on behalf of their country, one of the absolutely biggest things a football player can experience, and they’ve…

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