In what came as a historic moment for women’s football, Norway’s Ada Hegerberg became the first woman to receive the Ballon d’Or, the highest individual award in international football in a prestigious ceremony held in Paris on Monday night.
Hegerberg plays for Olympique Lyonnais in France and won the inaugural Ballon d’Or award for her prolific season, beating out 14 other nominees including Australia’s Sam Kerr.
The prestigious award has been reserved for men throughout its 62-year long history and it was for the first time this year that the award was introduced in the women’s category, a step that was long overdue.
In 2016, Hegerberg was also awarded UEFA’s Best Women’s Player award, following it with BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year in 2017.
But yesternight, as the proud footballer walked up to the stage to receive her third award in succession, her historic moment was marred by host DJ Martin Solveig as he asked her something that had nothing to do with her big achievement: if she knew how to “twerk”.
The footballer was quick to dismiss the idea as she replied with a straightforward and unapologetic “no” and awkwardly got down the stage.
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
The footage went viral on social media, where Andy Murray, famous tennis star and a long-time critic of the gender discrimination in sports vented out his anger on Instagram. He said,
“Why do women have to put up with this s***? What questions did they ask Mbappe and Modric? 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.”
Ada Hegerberg has the record for the most goals in a Women’s Champions League season and has won it thrice with her team Lyon. She has often been compared to her male Ballon d’Or winning counterparts, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for her outstanding contribution to world football.
The female footballer has endless credits to her name and has proved that she can walk shoulder to shoulder with men in every way but despite all of this, she became a victim of casual sexism.
Other people including high-profile sports personalities’ also accused Solveig of misogyny and for undermining a moment of professional feat with a reference to the provocative dance movement.
They took to Twitter to condemn the DJ’s actions and to gather support for the football star.
I hope that after he asked the female Ballon d'Or winner if she could twerk, Martin Solveig remembered to ask Modric if he could do the full monty. FFS. She makes short work of him and rightly so. https://t.co/edqK5AMzQX
— Sarah Doran (@sarahisnothere) December 3, 2018
I know Ada Hegerberg brushed it off as a joke and said she wasn't bothered by it, but I've been Hegerberg and so has every woman in sports. You learn to brush stuff off because if you spoke up every time you dealt with casual sexism, you'd be too difficult or can't take a joke.
— Caitlin Murray (@caitlinmurr) December 4, 2018
— John Arne Riise (@JARiiseOfficial) December 3, 2018
i'm supposed to be writing but i'm just sittin here pissed off as hell. this was supposed to be ada hegerberg's special day, the culmination of EVERYTHING she's worked for. now the only thing people are talking about is a POS asking her to twerk.
— A West (@ayyy_west) December 3, 2018
No. Not ok. Ever.
— Leah Harding (@LeahHardingAJE) December 3, 2018
Also read: The Most Offensive Chants in Football
The DJ’s so called “apology”
As the DJ became aware of the global backlash he was receiving on the internet he was quick to personally apologize to Hegerberg, as well as uploading a video on Twitter giving a justification for the same:
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
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
The video stands as proof to the fact that Solveig didn’t even understand the issue. He was sorry because of the reaction he was getting from the public and not because he realized what he said was wrong and extremely offensive.
He says that he was “astonished” by the reaction of the public as if it was absolutely alright for him to propose such a sexist request to someone who’s being awarded the highest honor in world football.
In the video the DJ also points out, “Of course I didn’t want to offend anyone … This was a joke, probably a bad one and I want to apologise for the one I may have offended.”
He doesn’t even has the basic courtesy to refer to the footballer by her full name.
Also, the excuse Solveig gave in the video for his disgraceful question, that is- a ‘distortion of his English level and English culture’ also proves to be a total bummer as he was conversing with Hegerberg in French, and not in English when he asked her to “twerk”.
After Twitter went on a frenzy to support the Norwegian footballer, Hegerberg said she didn’t view it that way. “I wasn’t upset,” she told the press. “He came to me after the situation and he apologized, but I didn’t take it as that at all.”
She said her mind was only on her big feat and that was what mattered at the end of the day: “I got the Ballon d’Or.”
Although the football star didn’t want to invite controversy and stayed quiet on the issue, this isn’t the first or the last time a woman has been subjected to sexism in the arena of sports.
Whether it was an interviewer questioning Mithali Raj, the captain of the Indian cricket team that who was her ”favorite male cricketer” or a presenter asking Serena Williams “to perform a twirl” for him, the sports world and especially football, has forever been entrenched in testosterone and machismo.
But the fact that people and especially men from the sport have now started acknowledging and condemning such acts of sexism is definitely a step forward, a ray of hope for women in the so called ‘man’s world’ of sports.
Image Credits: Google Images, Twitter
Find the blogger at @MoulshreeS