PARIS: Olympique Lyonnais and Norway forward Ada Hegerberg won the inaugural Ballon d’Or award for the best player in women’s football on Monday but the moment was tarnished when DJ Martin Solveig asked her to ‘twerk’ after receiving the prize.
Even though the 23-year-old Norwegian footballer said she hadn't been offended by the twerking question during Monday's award ceremony, Solveig still apologized on Twitter after his comment caused a social media stir.
The incident was a major talking point despite Hegerberg's achievement in becoming the first winner of the women's Ballon D'Or, an award which has been handed to male footballers since 1956.
“You’ve seen that I prepared a little celebration for (France forward) Kylian (Mbappe) so we said we’re going to do something similar. Do you know how to twerk?” said DJ Solveig at the awards show.
Ada responded "Non" in French, looking embarassed, and the clip from the event got severe criticism from millions of netizens.
Lyon striker Ada Hegerberg, first female Ballon D'Or winner after scoring over 250 career goals at the age 23, asked to twerk on stage in front of footballing giants and the public watching. Disgusting and really ruined her moment she deserved. Poor. pic.twitter.com/FSz0ozz2T4— Sean (@SeanWalkerSport) December 3, 2018
'Twerking' is a sexually provocative dance move popularised by singer Miley Cyrus.
As footage of the incident went viral, Two-time Wimbledon tennis champion Andy Murray led the backlash when he thundered: "Why do women still have to put up with that shit?" He posted on Instagram: "Another example of the ridiculous sexism that still exists in sport. To everyone who thinks people are overreacting and it was just a joke... it wasn't. I've been involved in sport my whole life and the level of sexism is unreal."
Solveig tweeted, "I didn't know that this could be seen as such an offense," and added: "This was a joke, probably a bad one."
Hegerberg said Solveig also apologized to her personally, even though "I wasn't upset."
I explained to @AdaStolsmo the buzz and she told me she understood it was a joke. Nevertheless my apologies to anyone who may have been offended. Most importantly congratulations to Ada pic.twitter.com/DATdg0TfQk— Martin Solveig (@martinsolveig) December 3, 2018
Playing down the incident, she told the BBC: “He (Solveig) came to me afterwards and was really sad that it went that way. I didn’t really think about it at the time to be honest. I didn’t really consider it a sexual harassment or anything in the moment." She added: "I was just happy to do the dance and win the Ballon d'Or to be honest. I will have a glass of champagne when I get back."
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
Before the ceremony, Hegerberg told The Guardian that she found it "really frustrating" that sport remains "such a man's world".
"Sometimes it's really frustrating, I must say. Sometimes you have episodes or situations where you feel like, damn, we're in such a man's world," she said in an interview.
"But at the same time I've never looked at myself different from men's football. I've always felt the same -- I work hard to try to achieve my dreams, like every other girl out there."
Real Madrid and Croatia midfielder Luka Modric won the men's award, becoming the first player other than Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo to claim the trophy in more than a decade.
Ada Hegerberg won the 2016 UEFA Best Women's Player in Europe Award on 25 August 2016, and in 2017 was named BBC Women's Footballer of the Year. The striker was the French league's top scorer with 31 goals last season while also firing 15 in the Champions League as Lyon went on to win the competition.
(With inputs from agencies)