And for women internationally, the inclusion of the women’s Ballon d’ for the first time in the Ballon d’Or award ceremony was a very big deal, recognising the world’s best female football player. Fifteen women were nominated for the award, including Australia’s Sam Kerr.
Pity the moment Norway’s Ada Hegerberg picked up the gong on stage on Monday was marred by the award presenter DJ Martin Solveig, who asked if she knew “how to twerk”.
WHAT A NIGHT ⭐️ Photo: Ivar Waage Johansen pic.twitter.com/bDfbUuAYrI
— Ada S Hegerberg (@AdaStolsmo) December 4, 2018
Just 23, Hegerberg has already been named BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year, and now picks up this prestigious award with plenty of playing years ahead. She broke the record this season for the most goals in a Champions League season, and scored 33 goals for her team Lyon.
On stage, Hegerberg did not look happy after replying “no” to the twerking question. She’d just given an inspiring speech sharing her hopes that more girls believe in themselves.
She’d come out smiling, proudly held the trophy high and thanked France Football for the “huge step for women’s football” in introducing the award. “Together we’ll make a difference,” she said.
The moment was, and forever will be, overshadowed by a ridiculous comment.
It brought back memories of Eugenie Bouchard being asked to “give us a twirl” during an on-court interview at the 2015 Australian Open, and cricketer Chris Gayle’s “Don’t blush baby” comment to journalist Mel McLaughlin.
Solveig was instantly hit with social media criticism and later gave an apology, of sorts, saying he apologised to “anyone who may have been offended. “This was a joke, probably a bad one, and I want to apologise.” Probably?
He said Hegerberg understood it was a joke, and blamed it on a “distortion of my English level and my English culture level.”
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
— Martin Solveig (@martinsolveig) December 4, 2018
Tennis champ Andy Murray later declared it’s “another example of the ridiculous sexism that still exists in sport.”
Meanwhile, Women in Sport shared its Beyond 30 research, which finds that nearly 40 per cent of women working in sport have experienced discrimination.
Sport Australia CEO Kate Palmer recently told Women’s Agenda that the achievements for women in sport will face setbacks. “I want all sports with females playing to be resilient around the knock backs,” she said.
“The commercial support and broadcast support will be a slow burn but we need to persist because it will happen. The market is ready for this – we know that. But I know from my time with netball that you make ground, and then get pushed back.”
Being asked to ‘twerk’ is one such setback. But hopefully, at the very least, a very good lesson for DJ Martin Solveig, and all presenters thinking similar comments are a good idea in the future.