Fight against inequality is Hegerberg's top priority

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Ada Hegerberg Press Conference - Groupama OL Training Center, Lyon, France - December 4, 2018 Olympique Lyonnais' Ada Hegerberg during a press conference REUTERS/Emmanuel Foudrot/File Photo (Reuters)

(Reuters) - Norway striker Ada Hegerberg plans to keep on pushing for equal opportunities for both men and women and said she had no regrets about missing next month's women's World Cup in France.

Hegerberg, 23, has not played for Norway since they were knocked out of the 2017 Women's European Championship, due to a dispute with her home federation about how women's football is treated in the country.

The inaugural winner of the female Ballon d'Or award in 2018 was not named in Norway's squad for the World Cup that begins on June 7 but Hegerberg is not giving up her fight.

"It can be tough to stand alone for something you believe in. But that's something I'm willing to take to keep my values, and what I believe in and where I want to go," Hegerberg told CNN.

"I was really honest with the national team representative. What I felt wasn't good enough -- it's not good enough."

Hegerberg, who has scored 38 goals for Norway, said after winning the Ballon d'Or that several changes would need to be made in Norwegian football for her to return without expanding on what those would be.

"I always used to play with the boys and loved it. You never asked yourself the question if there should be a difference between a boy or a girl," she added.

"We live in a world where equality is the most important thing. That's where we need... change. There are federations, there are clubs, there are men in high positions who have a responsibility to put women in the right place too.

"And that's where I think, I feel and I know we have a long way to go."

Hegerberg's decision to stop representing the national team came a few months before Norway's soccer association and their international players signed a new agreement leading to men and women receiving equal pay to represent the country.

The historic agreement saw the remuneration pot for women doubled from 3.1 million Norwegian crowns (277,504.9 pounds) to 6 million crowns.

"That's why, even though there are changes, you need to push for those changes every day, never stop demanding for equality and development. That's why our position is important. Every player needs to use their voice to shake up things," she added.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar)