Another glass ceiling to fall at World Cup

NRK’s Lise Klaveness will be the first female expert at a men’s World Cup tournament

Lise Klaveness

Photo: Hallgeir Vågenes / VG
Lise Klaveness, playing for the national team, scores and cheers during the 1-0 win against Italy in a 2005 World Cup qualifying match.

Jo Christian Weldingh

NRK will send Lise Klaveness to this summer’s soccer men’s World Cup in Russia, as a part of their team of soccer experts. She will become the first-ever female soccer expert in a men’s World Cup tournament. The games—which will be without Norway or the United States participating—run from June 18-July 15.

“I think the opportunity is a privilege,” she said to VG. “It’s just very, very fun. Personally, I feel like the female World Cup and all the other championships have good qualities, but the men’s World Cup is on a different level. It’s something special. The men’s World Cup is the biggest and has been the biggest thing since I was a little kid.”

She continues to thank NRK for the opportunity.

“It’s important to break all the glass ceilings,” she said. “It’s the most popular sport for women and girls, so it’s important to break down the barriers: first female coach, boss, expert, and commentator. But, to be honest, I don’t really think about the fact that I’m a woman (doing this) all that much.”

Lise Klaveness

Photo: digitalsport
Lise Klaveness working as an announcer for NRK in 2016.

The former Norwegian national player is prepared to face the criticism that might come because she’s a woman.

“I have been working as an expert for quite some time, and I think people have gotten used to me,” Klaveness said. “I don’t know if it will be an issue, but I’m prepared. I brace myself for the gender-based criticism that might come my way. It feels really bad when it happens, but I’m pretty sure it won’t affect me or the job I’m there to do.”

Swede Malin Swedberg became the first-ever female expert in a men’s championship, when she provided the commentary at the European Championship in 2004. Viviana Villa, from Argentina, will be working as an expert for Telemundo this summer, while the BBC will be sending Jacqui Oatley.

However, Klaveness’s excitement for the championship supersedes her excitement for breaking glass ceilings.

“I’m going to the World Cup for the first time,” she repeated. “It’s a big deal for me, and that’s also where my mind’s at. I feel very lucky.”

Following the NRK show Heimebane, where Ane Dahl Torp portrays a woman coaching a men’s soccer team, gender roles in sports have been a highly debated issue in Norwegian media this spring. Several high-profile people in both the media and sports have spoken out about the need for more female representation and leadership. Klaveness’s role in this summer’s World Cup is a step in the right direction.

Klaveness is, and has been for almost two decades, one of the best-known women in Norwegian soccer. She started her soccer career in IL Sandviken, a club from Bergen, but has played for several other clubs on the highest level, both in Norway and in Sweden. She has been credited with 73 national team games and scored nine goals.

Klaveness has a law degree from the University of Oslo and has been practicing law both as a lawyer and as an associate justice.

Jo Christian Weldingh grew up in Lillehammer, Norway, and lives in Oslo. He has a bachelor’s degree in archaeology from the University of Oslo and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from BI Norwegian Business School.

This article originally appeared in the June 1, 2018, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.