May moves to pre­vent rash of res­ig­na­tions

The Guardian - - FRONT PAGE - Heather Ste­wart Ra­jeev Syal

Down­ing Street is warn­ing Brex­iters that re­ject­ing Theresa May’s deal on Tues­day will drive Bri­tain to­wards a per­ma­nent cus­toms union with the EU, as the gov­ern­ment tries to fore­stall a rash of res­ig­na­tions be­fore next week’s his­toric vote.

The prime minister will spend the week­end at her Che­quers coun­try re­treat be­fore em­bark­ing on what some at West­min­ster be­lieve could be the closing act of her premier­ship.

With the par­lia­men­tary arith­metic look­ing un­remit­tingly bleak for May, sev­eral Brexit-back­ing aides have warned her that they are pre­pared to re­sign on Tues­day un­less there are ma­jor changes to her deal. Leavers are con­cerned about the Ir­ish back­stop, in which they fear Bri­tain could be trapped in­def­i­nitely.

Mike Wood, the par­lia­men­tary pri­vate sec­re­tary

Ada Hegerberg on that tw­erk­ing furore and what the Bal­lon d’Or means for women

The foot­baller Ada Hegerberg says she wants to be re­mem­bered as the first woman to win foot­ball’s Bal­lon d’Or, af­ter the mo­ment she col­lected the big­gest in­di­vid­ual prize in foot­ball was marred by the male com­pere of the awards cer­e­mony ask­ing her if she would like to twerk on stage.

“It got out of hand and I want the at­ten­tion to be on the his­toric mo­ment for the Bal­lon d’Or and what it meant for me,” said Hegerberg, 23.

The elite of foot­ball gath­ered on Mon­day night in Paris to crown a new king, and for the first time in its 62-year his­tory, a queen. The Bal­lon d’Or, the most pres­ti­gious in­di­vid­ual prize in the men’s game, won by ei­ther Cris­tiano Ron­aldo or Lionel Messi for the pre­ced­ing 10 years, was lifted aloft by the World Cup fi­nal­ist Luka Mo­drić.

And the new era also saw the in­au­gu­ral women’s prize picked up by Hegerberg – a Nor­we­gian striker who plays for Lyon, with al­most 300 ca­reer goals, four French league ti­tles and a hat-trick of Coupe de France tro­phies and of Cham­pi­ons League ti­tles.

As Hegerberg col­lected her prize, she gave a speech with the mes­sage for young girls all over the world to “please, be­lieve in your­selves”.

At which the host, the French DJ Martin Solveig, asked the record­break­ing goal-scorer “do you know how to twerk?”. Cool-headed as ever, Hegerberg replied with a curt “no” and turned to leave and, in that mo­ment, a vi­ral clip was born.

Fury en­sued. The ten­nis star Andy Mur­ray, a vo­cal sup­porter of women’s rights, was one of the first to voice his anger, de­scrib­ing lev­els of sex­ism within sport as “un­real”.

“Why do women still have to put up with that shit. What ques­tions did they ask Mbappé and Mo­drić? I’d imag­ine some­thing to do with foot­ball,” Mur­ray said on In­sta­gram.

Hegerberg, speak­ing to the Guardian about her lat­est place in the his­tory books, said it was im­por­tant that “out­rage is there in ev­ery sit­u­a­tion where that theme comes up”, but was keen to tilt things away from the sex­ism row and what it says about the in­dus­try, and back to what the award rep­re­sents.

“It was an amaz­ing night for women in gen­eral and women who play foot­ball. I re­ally want to say thank you to France Foot­ball for putting it in place, I know it’s 2018 and it’s been a long time com­ing, but at the same time it’s im­por­tant to show what a big step for­ward this is for women’s foot­ball.

“It was, and is, quite emo­tional to be hon­est,” she said. “I try not to use the word proud too of­ten but I was re­ally proud, be­cause I was in a po­si­tion to pro­mote women’s foot­ball and that’s what I’m pas­sion­ate about.

“It’s a night when we cel­e­brate the best foot­ballers in the world, male and fe­male. They’re the same as us, we’ve been work­ing hard ev­ery day to achieve things like this. The mu­tual re­spect is there. There is no dif­fer­ence.

“That’s what’s so nice about nights like this be­cause it puts both sexes up front, and that’s how it should be.”

Of the 15 nom­i­nees for the in­au­gu­ral award, seven were from Lyon, a tes­ta­ment to the five-times Euro­pean cham­pi­ons. “It shows the men­tal­ity in the group,” said Hegerberg.

“I call it a team award as much as an in­di­vid­ual award. I know I’ve had some fan­tas­tic sea­sons, but we’ve achieved great things to­gether.”

On Wed­nes­day night Hegerberg was ap­plauded by al­most 60,000 fans as she took to Lyon’s Groupama Sta­dium pitch. “It was fan­tas­tic to go home to my home pitch, a fan­tas­tic sta­dium, in front of great fans. It shows they ap­pre­ci­ate the foot­ball,” said Hegerberg.

“That’s the phi­los­o­phy from [Lyon owner] Jean-Michel Au­las and the club, it’s a mod­ern way to think.

“We have ev­ery­thing we need to per­form at the high­est level, that’s why I feel like the club should be seen as an ex­am­ple. This isn’t some­thing Au­las has built in one year, it was a pro­ject, he was pa­tient and now he has the best team. It pays off.”

For se­rial win­ners, you might imag­ine stay­ing mo­ti­vated would be hard. But Hegerberg de­scribes win­ning and scor­ing as an ad­dic­tion: “When you first win a tro­phy you want to do it again and again. It keeps you hun­gry. Peo­ple won­der what you are go­ing to do af­ter you’ve won the Cham­pi­ons League three times? Win it again, if I can. That’s what de­fines the best ath­letes, be­ing ca­pa­ble of show­ing up year af­ter year at the high­est level.”

Last sea­son the striker scored 15 Cham­pi­ons League goals, a record, and matched Ron­aldo’s tally for the same du­ra­tion. With 41 goals in 41 games she is 10 shy of the all-time Cham­pi­ons League record held by Anja Mit­tag of Ger­many, but set­ting that as a tar­get for this term is look­ing too far ahead.

“I don’t think too much about how many goals I’m go­ing to tar­get. I work re­ally hard and pre­pare re­ally well for the sea­son to come … I know when I’m well pre­pared, when I’ve worked hard, the re­sults will come.”

Miss­ing from her cab­i­net is in­ter­na­tional ac­claim, and that is a sit­u­a­tion un­likely to change. Hav­ing stepped back from the Nor­we­gian na­tional team in 2017, dis­mayed by the lack of com­mit­ment of the Nor­we­gian Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion to women’s foot­ball, the Bal­lon d’Or win­ner will not be seen at the World Cup in France next sum­mer. But to her, prin­ci­ples mat­ter.

“I wouldn’t be the player I am to­day if I didn’t stand for my val­ues, what I’m pas­sion­ate about and what I be­lieve in. It’s easy to lose your­self on the road and you have to take some tough de­ci­sions to stay true to your­self.”

She is an­i­mated dis­cussing the fu­ture of women’s foot­ball and what is needed for its growth. “Our job is to work hard. Ev­ery woman player has a re­spon­si­bil­ity to work hard and stay out of your com­fort zone ev­ery day to de­liver good foot­ball. We need to con­tinue to de­liver good foot­ball … so that in the end they can’t see through us, they have to see the value in it.

“There’s a long way to go, there are small fights and big­ger fights we need to [have]. We don’t have to be alone in this, we need help from big­ger or­gan­i­sa­tions, from men as well, who have the power to help make a dif­fer­ence.”

‘It got out of hand. I want the at­ten­tion to be on the his­toric mo­ment for the Bal­lon d’Or’

Ada Hegerberg



Ada Hegerberg at Lyon’s Groupama Sta­dium and, right, in ac­tion against Pernille Harder of VfL Wolfs­burg

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