Norwegian footballer Ada Hegerberg became the first woman to win a coveted Ballon D'Or award at a ceremony in Paris last night. However, her win was marred by a comment made by the event's presenter, DJ Martin Solveig, when he asked her to 'twerk' in celebration of her win.
23-year-old Hegerberg helped French team Lyon beat Wolfsburg 4-1 in Kiev this year, and she made history by becoming the first female winner of this prize. She made an emotional speech in receipt of the award, thanking her friends and family and praising her teammates for the "huge steps" they have made in favour of women's football. She finished her speech with a call to all young female football players around the world to "please believe in yourself", while her mother cried in the audience.
After her win, Solveig congratulated Hegerberg and suggested that she dance in celebration of the award. He asked her, "do you know how to twerk?". Visibly annoyed, Hegerberg simply replied, "no", and appeared to walk away from the stage.
— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) December 3, 2018
The gaffe was met with immediate outrage on social media, as both male and female football fans accused Solveig of sexism. Many athletes expressed disappointment at the comments and said this was a regular occurrence in women's sport.
⚽️ “Do you know how to twerk?”
🎾 “Can you give us a twirl?”
🏊🏻♀️ “And here’s the man responsible...”
🚴🏻♀️ “And he’s thinking, ‘what’s for tea?’”
🥉 “Wife of American footballer wins bronze...”
We’ve been here so many times. When will sport learn to respect women? 🙄🤦♀️ https://t.co/uJv3zy8PSH
— Anna Kessel (@Anna_Kessel) December 3, 2018
Andy Murray on women's Ballon d'Or winner Ada Hegerberg being asked to twerk on stage tonight... pic.twitter.com/XWhchKnWvW
— Stuart Fraser (@stu_fraser) December 3, 2018
Absolute trash: French DJ Martin Solveig asks Ada Hegerberg to twerk after receiving the first women's Ballon d'Or award. (Love her response, though.) This is the crap female athletes deal with on a daily basis around the world.pic.twitter.com/y2TLe3v4u9
— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) December 3, 2018
Martin Solveig took to social media soon after the ceremony to address his comments and the ensuing outrage. In a video posted to Twitter, Solveig said that he was "amazed and astonished" by the reaction online, and said the incident "comes from a distortion of my English levels and my English culture level". However, since he made the comments to Hegerberg in French, not English, many did not accept his apology as genuine.
Sincere apologies to the one I may have offended. My point was : I don’t invite women to twerk but dance on a Sinatra song. Watch the full sequence People who have followed me for 20 years know how respectful I am especially with women pic.twitter.com/pnZX8qvl4R
— Martin Solveig (@martinsolveig) December 3, 2018
Solveig also said he apologised to Hegerberg personally after the ceremony.
In an interview with a journalist from the Associated Press, Hegerberg said she did not take offence to Solveig's comments, and that the fact they may have been perceived as sexist "did not come to [my] mind at all".
Ballon d’Or winner @AdaStolsmo says she wasn’t upset when French DJ Martin Solveig asked her if she could twerk at the award ceremony in Paris. Apologies for my framing at the beginning pic.twitter.com/LFzEoCccRo
— John Leicester (@johnleicester) December 3, 2018
Featured image: Ivar Waage Johansen via Twitter