Norwegian soccer player Ada Hegerberg made history on Monday after she was named the inaugural winner of the women’s version of the Ballon d’Or, an annual award given to the world’s top soccer player.
But the historic moment was tarnished after French DJ Martin Solveig, a presenter at the Paris gala, asked the soccer star if she wanted to twerk on stage, prompting gasps in the crowd.
Hegerberg didn’t hide her offense at the request, shutting Solveig down by mouthing “no” and leaving the stage.
The incident sparked outrage on social media, with people slamming Solveig for asking the soccer star to perform a sexually provocative dance minutes after she won a prestigious award for her sporting exploits.
American soccer journalist and author Grant Wahl described the French presenter’s conduct as “absolute trash.”
“This makes my blood boil,” tweeted British soccer writer Jason Pettigrove, while New York Times politics reporter Astead Herndon described it as an “icky moment.”
The incident even prompted a temporary edit of Solveig’s Wikipedia bio, which was changed to describe him as “breathtakingly sexist and very lucky not to have been kicked square in the balls by Ada Hegerberg.”
Solveig later posted a Twitter video saying he “didn’t know that this could be seen as such an offense,” and blaming the social media controversy on people misunderstanding his poor English.
“I’m a little bit amazed, astonished by what I’m reading on the internet. I of course didn’t want to offend anyone,” he said. “This comes from a distortion of my English level and my English culture level which is obviously not enough, because I didn’t mean to offend anyone and I didn’t know that this could be seen as such an offense.”
Solveig concluded that his remark “was a joke, probably a bad one” and said he wanted to apologize to anyone he may have offended.
He also shared a photo of him embracing Hegerberg, stating that she told him she understood it was just a joke.
Hegerberg, 23, has been an outspoken advocate for women’s soccer and has refused to play for the Norwegian women’s national team since 2017, citing a lack of respect for female soccer players in the country.
She has said that she won’t play for Norway at next year’s Women’s World Cup.
“A lot of things need to be done to make the conditions better for women who play football,” Hegerberg said after collecting her Ballon d’Or award.
“It’s all about how we respect women’s football. I don’t think the respect has been there.”
Hegerberg won the Women’s Ballon d’Or after scoring a record 15 goals in the UEFA Women’s Champions League, which she won with French club Olympique Lyonnais.
The men’s Ballon d’Or was picked up by Croatia and Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric, who ended the decade-long monopoly of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi over the award.
Modric was named the best player of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and was a key member of the Real Madrid team that won a third consecutive UEFA Champions League.
French teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe, who won the World Cup with France, was named the world’s best young player.