Norwegian forward Ada Hegerberg was named the inaugural female Ballon d’Or winner, given to the world’s best female player in 2018.
That’s the most important takeaway.
The second is that Hegerberg, upon acceptance of the trophy and a short speech at a gala in Paris on Monday, was still faced with blatant sexism when she was asked to twerk on stage after sharing her appreciation for this “huge step for women’s football.”
Hegerberg becomes 1st female to win award
For the first time in the award’s 62-year history, the Ballon d’Or was presented by France Football to both a male and a female player.
— #ballondor (@francefootball) December 3, 2018
Hegerberg, 23, plays for the French side Lyon and is a three-time Women’s Champions League winner. She scored a tournament-record 15 goals for Lyon in the Women’s Champions League last season and notched 42 goals over 25 regular games. She has 250 career goals in the league.
Her recent honors include the 2016 Uefa’s Best Women’s Player award and 2017 BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year.
A committee of 45 journalists pick the winner from a group of 15 nominees. Two National Women’s Soccer League players made out the top five in votes.
Pernille Harder (Denmark/Wolfsburg), Dzsenifer Maroszan (Germany/Lyon), Marta (Brazil/Orlando Pride) and Sam Kerr (Australia/Chicago Red Stars) filled out the top five.
Hegerberg outspoken about girls’ soccer
Hegerberg has been vocal about soccer in her homeland, Norway, and the differences between girls and boys in the country.
“Football is the biggest sport in Norway for girls and has been for years but at the same time girls don’t have the same opportunities as the boys. Norway has a great history of women’s football but it’s harder now. We’ve stopped talking about development and other countries have overtaken us.”
She stepped away from playing with Norway’s national team, citing longstanding frustrations over the state of women’s soccer there.
In her short acceptance speech Monday she referenced the support some have given women’s soccer, including France Football.
“It’s a huge step for women’s fútbol and the work you put down is such an important thing for women’s fútbol and together we’ll make a difference,” she said.
🗣"I would like to end this speech with some words to young girls all over the world: please believe in yourself." pic.twitter.com/VKSMvpQQZK
— beIN SPORTS USA (@beINSPORTSUSA) December 3, 2018
Emcee asks world’s best soccer player to ‘twerk’
And then this happened.
Emcee Martin Solveig asked Hegerberg, newly anointed best female player in the world, if she could twerk for them. Because no matter the heights a woman reaches, she will always be valued for certain things.
It was gross and disrespectful, and what we all know she is well capable of doing is drilling a soccer ball pretty darn hard. It’s lucky she didn’t have one in this case.
That face says it all.
What was a huge step was taken back a notch and unfortunately Hegerberg, as with everyone watching, is reminded that no matter how high up a woman goes or what new ceiling is broken there will always farther to go. That is the key example of what female athletes face on a near daily basis.
Luka Modric of Real Madrid won the Ballon D’Or on the men’s side. It was not addressed if he could twerk for the audience or not.
Emcee responds with apology
Solveig took to Twitter shortly after the gala, and long into the social media uproar, to apologize and clarify.
“This comes from a distortion of my English level and my English cultural 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,” he said.
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 pic.twitter.com/pnZX8qvl4R
— Martin Solveig (@martinsolveig) December 3, 2018
Solveig seems to be saying he wanted her to dance to Sinatra, but honesty, that doesn’t make it much better. He called it a joke and “probably a bad one.”
It’s not a bad joke. It’s not a joke at all. It’s disrespectful to a woman winning an award for being a premier soccer player.
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