French DJ and Ballon d’Or host Martin Solveig has apologized to the inaugural women’s winner Ada Hegerberg after a row erupted over a question he posed to her during the award ceremony.
Solveig was criticized on social media after asking the 23-year-old striker, in French, during the presentation: “Do you know how to twerk?” The player shut down the line of questioning with a blunt “no.”
The camera cuts briefly to Kylian Mbappe, the winner of the newly-formed Kopa award for the best young player, who looks at the host disbelievingly.
Solveig later apologized to Hegerberg in a series of tweets, saying he didn’t meant to offend anyone. “This was a joke, probably a bad one, and I want to apologize for the one I may have offended. Sorry about that,” he said.
READ: Hegerberg’s message to young girls – ‘Believe in yourselves’
When asked for her response, Hegerberg said she didn’t view the comment as sexual harassment.
“He came to me after and he was really, really sad that it went that way. I didn’t think about it in that moment – I didn’t consider it as a sexual harassment or anything,” she said. “I was just happy to get a dance and celebrate winning the Ballon d’Or, to be honest.”
The Norwegian forward was the top scorer in the French league last season with 31 goals, and scored 15 times in the Champions League.
Every year, the Ballon d’Or is awarded to the world’s best footballer as voted for by journalists, and is widely considered the most prestigious individual prize in the sport.
That she was asked a question about twerking during a ceremony to honor her success angered sports stars and fans alike.
Scottish tennis player Andy Murray posted an Instagram story lambasting the host for sexist double standards.
On top of a screenshot of a news report about the comments, Murray wrote: “Another example of the ridiculous sexism that still exists in sport. Why do women have still have to put up with that s**t? What questions did they ask Mbappe and Modric (this year’s winner of the men’s Ballon d’Or)?
I’d imagine something to do with football. And 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.”
Sports Illustrated and Fox Sports contributor Grant Wahl added his disapproval of the incident, calling Solveig “absolute trash” and agreeing with Murray’s comment that “this is the crap female athletes deal with on a daily basis around the world.”
Wahl also responded to Solveig’s first tweet in response to the controversy, saying it didn’t amount to an apology.