Hegerberg ignores row, host contrite

DJ Martin Solveig was playing music throughout the ceremony, and also danced with Ada Hegerberg to Frank Sinatra. But her answer was "No" when asked if she knew how to "twerk" and he later apologised, saying it had been "a joke".
DJ Martin Solveig was playing music throughout the ceremony, and also danced with Ada Hegerberg to Frank Sinatra. But her answer was "No" when asked if she knew how to "twerk" and he later apologised, saying it had been "a joke".PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS • Norwegian striker Ada Hegerberg said the introduction of a women's Ballon d'Or award was a "big step forward" for the game, playing down suggestions her historic victory had been overshadowed after she had been asked to perform a "twerk" live on stage.

The Lyon star - whose prolific form in front of goal helped the French club secure a third successive Champions League victory - edged out Danish forward Pernille Harder to claim the inaugural prize at a ceremony in Paris on Monday.

The accolade was organised by France Football magazine following a vote by journalists from around the world.

However, the momentous occasion was somewhat hijacked when French host and DJ Martin Solveig asked her if she would perform a sexually provocative dance.

Hegerberg was visibly embarrassed as she flatly turned down the request and later told reporters: "He (Solveig) came to see me after and apologised. The Ballon d'Or is the most important thing.

"I am touched and very proud, for women's football, for myself, for the club. I share this with Lyon, my teammates, the staff. It's historic, it's incredible, a great day for women's football and a big step forward."

The 23-year-old, one of seven players from the all-conquering Lyon side to feature among the 15 nominees, also insisted her night was not marred by the "twerk" request, saying: "I didn't feel it was like that at all to be honest and I am sad if people thought about the situation like that."

  • Consecutive Champions Leagues Ada Hegerberg won from 2016-18.

Afterwards, Solveig was contrite and tweeted that he had been "astonished" by the backlash on social media, claiming it had been "a joke". He said: "Of course, I didn't want to offend anyone... I want to apologise for the ones I may have offended."

But his apology cut little ice with former top-ranked men's tennis player Andy Murray, who posted on his Instagram page: "Why do women still have to put up with that s***?

"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."

Hegerberg was Lyon's top scorer with 15 goals - with one coming in the Champions League final in Kiev in May, as they beat Wolfsburg 4-1 after extra time.

Despite her club exploits, it remains to be seen if she will return to the international fold for next year's World Cup, which will be played in France with the final in Lyon. She has not played for her country since their disappointing showing at Euro 2017, in which Norway finished bottom of Group A.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 05, 2018, with the headline 'Hegerberg ignores row, host contrite'. Print Edition | Subscribe