It was meant to be a second of triumph. Ada Hegerberg, a 23-year-old Norwegian soccer participant, had simply turn out to be the primary lady to win the Ballon d’Or, one in all soccer’s most prestigious particular person honors.
However for some, the historic second was shortly spoiled when, in an onstage trade after her acceptance speech on Monday, the French D.J. Martin Solveig requested Ms. Hegerberg one thing that had nothing to do along with her experience: whether or not she knew how you can twerk.
“No,” Ms. Hegerberg stated, shortly dismissing the concept.
The trade took off on social media, the place critics — together with some high-profile athletes — accused Mr. Solveig of sexism and assailed him for undermining a second achievement with a reference to the provocative dance transfer. The controversy practically overshadowed the information that Luka Modric beat Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi for the boys’s Ballon d’Or. The award for finest participant had been reserved for male gamers from its inception in 1956, till the ladies’s Ballon d’Or was created this yr.
“That is an absolute joke,” Lindsey Horan, a United States girls’s crew midfielder who was one of many finalists for the ladies’s Ballon d’Or, tweeted in response to Mr. Solveig’s remark. She provided her help for Ms. Hegerberg: “Congrats and you don’t deserve this.”
Andy Murray, the tennis star, additionally condemned the remark in a publish on Instagram. “To everybody who thinks persons are overreacting and it was only a joke.. It wasn’t,” he wrote. “I’ve been concerned in sport my complete life and the extent of sexism is unreal.”
However whilst others held up the second as one more instance of sexism in sports activities, Ms. Hegerberg stated she didn’t view it that means. “I wasn’t upset,” she advised The Related Press. “He got here to me after the state of affairs and he apologized, however I didn’t take it as that in any respect.”
She stated her thoughts was on her achievement: “I received the Ballon d’Or.”
In a video posted on Twitter, Mr. Solveig stated he was “amazed” by the feedback he had seen on-line. “I didn’t imply to offend anybody and I didn’t know that this may very well be seen as such an offense, particularly when you think about the sequence in complete,” he stated.
After Ms. Hegerber dismissed the twerking remark, Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me To The Moon” started to play, and he or she and Mr. Solveig slow-danced briefly.
Mr. Solveig performed music and danced all through the ceremony. When Kylian Mbappé, who helped France’s males’s crew win the World Cup this yr, gained the Kopa Trophy for one of the best males’s participant beneath 21, he and the D.J. danced (albeit with out touching) to Drake’s “God’s Plan.”
Nonetheless, in his Twitter publish, Mr. Solveig acknowledged his remark to Ms. Hegerberg was a misstep: “This was a joke — in all probability a foul one.”
The Ballon d’Or, awarded yearly by the journal France Soccer, was initially created to honor the European participant of the yr, and has had a historical past of exclusion. The Brazilian soccer star Pelé, who by no means signed for a European membership, by no means gained the award, for instance. It didn’t turn out to be a worldwide prize till 2007.
And whereas FIFA, world soccer’s governing physique, launched a girls’s world participant of the yr award in 2001, the Ballon d’Or remained reserved for male gamers till September, when France Soccer’s editor introduced that the journal would honor a girl for the primary time this yr.
“Girls’s soccer is a booming self-discipline that deserves the identical respect as males’s soccer,” the editor, Pascal Ferre, advised The Related Press.
An inventory of 15 finalists was introduced in October. The winner was chosen by a bunch of 40 voters — a unique group than the judges for the boys’s award. Mr. Ferre stated there have been completely different voters as a result of girls’s gamers deserved to be assessed by individuals who adopted them repeatedly. “Solely specialists can vote,” he stated.
Ms. Hegerberg, who performs for the perennial French champions Olympique Lyon, has spoken up about what she says is an absence of respect for girls’s soccer in Norway and has stated she gained’t play for her house nation within the subsequent Girls’s World Cup.
However in her acceptance speech on Monday, Ms. Hegerberg had a message for “younger women everywhere in the world.”
“Please,” she stated, “imagine in yourselves.”