The co-host of the Ballon d’Or award ceremony has been forced to apologise after the winner of the women’s award, Ada Hegerberg, was asked on stage if she knew how to twerk at the event in Paris.
The 23-year-old Lyon striker was announced as the first ever winner of the women’s prize by former France international David Ginola and gave an empowering speech to encourage more girls to play football.
However, as the Norway international was leaving the stage, French DJ and co-host Martin Solveig asked her if she could twerk. The three-time women’s Champions League winner abruptly said “no”, before walking away.
After the event, Hegerberg told reporters that she accepted the apology from the 42-year-old.
She was quoted on skysports.com saying: “He 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 as sexual harassment or anything in the moment. I was just happy to do the dance and win the Ballon d’Or to be honest.”
Solveig was quick to apologise after his actions provoked furious criticism on social media.
Accompanied by a video apologising further to Hegerberg, Solveig wrote on Twitter: “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.”
Three-time Olympic bronze medallist Kelly Sotherton was one of those to condemn his actions, commenting on a video of the incident, writing “Wtf?”
Solveig confirmed that he spoke to Hegerberg after the ceremony.
He posted a picture of the pair embracing and wrote: “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.”
England defender and Lyon team-mate Lucy Bronze, who came sixth in the inaugural women’s award, believed the incident was just a joke.
“The DJ asked each person that won what their dance was but she can twerk, she was lying. It was more of a joke of making her dance,” Bronze told BBC Sport.
On receiving the award, Hegerberg said: “I would like to say a huge thanks to France Football, for letting us have this opportunity to have this award.
“It is a huge step for women’s football and the work you have put down is such an important thing for women’s football and together we will make a difference.
“I would like to end this speech, with some words to young girls all over the world. Please believe in yourself.”