The FIFA Women's World Cup is in full swing in France, but the absence of Norway's Ada Hegerberg continues to cast a shadow over the tournament.

The winner of the 2018 Women's Ballon d'Or award hasn't played for her country since 2017 in protest at the Norwegian Football Federation's treatment of its female footballers.

Last week, Real Madrid's Martin Odegaard heavily criticised his compatriot in a lengthy Instagram post, which referenced an interview Hegerberg gave to Norwegian newspaper Morgenbladet in which she said she quit the Norway team after feeling "mentally broken" by conditions in the camp.

"Maybe you can find something better to do than destroy the national team's preparations for the World Cup?

"They have qualified for the World Cup with their country (among the greatest things a footballer can experience) and they have already had enough negative attention. They deserve better.

"That you choose to do an interview like this is completely incomprehensible. The timing is terrible. The choice not to play for Norway is yours, but respect Norway and our national team. It's enough now."

On this week's RTÉ Soccer Podcast, the panel discussed the greater ramifications of Hegerberg's protest and whether she was right to stand by it.

Aine O'Gorman was part of the Republic of Ireland women's team that publicly raised concerns over the general treatment of the squad by the FAI back in 2017.

"Here at home we had our own battle," she said.

"It was a really, really tough time for us. It was something we didn't want to have to do but it was important for us and women's football on the island that we stepped up to the mark. Things have improved a lot. 

"We were willing not to play the game. We were a collective. 

"Hegerberg has been in that position [of being on the big stage] already. She scored a hat-trick for Lyon in the Champions League final against Barcelona. She could come out and speak about the issues and still no one seems to be [listening]."  

"She's the best player in the world," said RTÉ Sport's Marie Crowe of Hegerberg. 

"Imagine if there was a World Cup and Messi or Ronaldo weren't playing in it. I'd love to see her playing and I'm sure everyone else would but if it came to the stage that the FAI wouldn't listen to the Ireland women's team, how far would they have gone? She obviously feels so strongly about this she's sacrificing her own career."

Alan Cawley believes Hegerberg should have gone to the World Cup and used her profile to raise her concerns.

"She's the best player in the world... is she not cutting off her nose to spite her face a little bit?" he asked.

"I understand the stance and she wants things done properly, but would it not benefit the game so much more if she's at the World Cup and playing for her country, being the best player, being the face of the tournament, in regards to changing things also?

"She could still fight her battles but carry on playing and promoting everything from within the game rather than being on the outside now and missing out on the tournament.

"Whatever her gripe against the federation is, I think her case would be so much stronger playing in the tournament and still fighting the causes."

Norway meanwhile are through to the knockout stages having won two of their three Group A games.

Listen to the full discussion below from the 26-minute mark.

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RTÉ and TG4 will share coverage throughout the duration of the Women's World Cup. Watch Norway v Nigeria live on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player this Saturday, 8pm