The first awarding of a women’s Ballon d’Or was overshadowed when the winner was asked to “twerk” on stage after being handed the award.
On a historic night for the women’s game, Lyon striker Ada Hegerberg was honoured as the first recipient of the prestigious Ballon d’Or award, 62 years after Blackpool legend Stanley Matthews won the first male version of the prize.
However, the actions of guest host for the night, Martin Solveig, highlighted there was still a long way to go to change perceptions among some fans.
Hegerberg had said the award signified “a huge step for women’s football” before the ceremony, but that was countered by Solveig’s actions just minutes after the award was presented.
The French DJ, on stage in Paris to help present the award, stunned the audience by asking Hegerberg to “twerk” on stage.
Understandably, the Norwegian striker was clearly unimpressed, and the request was met with a withering response on social media.
Leah Harding tweeT:Norway’s @AdaStolsmo is the first woman to win a #BallonDor since the ceremony started in 1956. A major achievement for women and sports. And to celebrate, the DJ asked her to twerk.
Solveig immediately took to social media himself to clarify his comments, blaming language and cultural differences.
“I, of course did not want to offend anyone,” Solveig said.
Martin Solveig tweet: 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
“This comes from a distortion of my English level and my English cultural level … I did not know that this could be seen as such an offence.
“This was a joke, probably a bad one,” Solveig said.
Solveig then tweeted a photo from backstage in which he is shaking hands with Hegerberg.
Martin Solveig tweet: 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
Hegerberg, who has won three Champions League medals in a row with Lyon, has taken a stand against perceived inequality in football, refusing to play for her national team Norway until conditions improve for female players.
“A lot of things need to be done to make the conditions better for women who play football,” Hegerberg said in an interview before the ceremony.
“It’s all about how we respect women’s football. I don’t think the respect has been there.
“I wish the national team the best, though. We just follow two different paths at the moment.”
Matildas star Sam Kerr finished in fifth spot in the voting, but said just having the award meant women’s football had won.
“For the first time a woman will win football’s highest honour. So even if I don’t win, we will,” Kerr posted on Instagram before the awards ceremony.
Kerr had another outstanding 2018, winning the NWSL golden boot, the PFA Women’s Footballer of the Year and ESPY Award for Best International Women’s Soccer Player.
Dane Pernille Harder and German Dzsenifer Marozsan rounded out the top three, while Brazilian Marta was fourth.
Luca Modric was awarded the men’s prize, ending the decade-long dominance of Cristiano Ronaldo, who finished in second spot, and Lionel Messi, who finished a shock fifth.
French teenager Kylian Mbappe, who is not 20 until next month was awarded the Raymond Kopa Trophy for the world’s best young player. The France and Paris St Germain striker was fourth in the overall prize, just behind fellow countryman Antoine Griezmann.
France Football magazine has been awarding the Ballon d’Or — until now only to men — since 1956, when Matthews was the first winner.