Matildas star Sam Kerr was fifth in the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or while Norwegian winner Ada Hegerberg was asked if she could twerk by the awards’ co-host.
Ada Hegerberg has won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or from a star field that included Matildas ace Sam Kerr but the moment was tarnished when the Norwegian forward was asked if she could twerk after receiving the top honour.
Sixty-two years after Stanley Matthews won the first Ballon d’Or the women’s game received its first winner in Hegerberg.
The 23-year-old gave an empowering speech to encourage more girls to play football but as she was leaving the stage co-host of the Ballon d’Or award ceremony, DJ Martin Solveig, asked her in French if she could twerk.
Hegerberg abruptly said “no” before walking away.
Solveig was the subject of criticism on social media for the exchange and quickly apologised for his comments.
“This was a joke probably a bad one, I want to apologise to the one I offended, sorry about that,” he said via a video posted on Twitter.
Hegerberg played down the incident and said she had accepted Solveig’s apology.
A jury of 45 journalists voted Hegerberg the best player for 2018 from among 15 nominees.
Australian striker Kerr was fifth in the voting.
“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 on Monday.
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.
Hegerberg called the award “a huge step for women’s football”.
She scored a tournament-record 15 goals for Lyon in the Women’s Champions League last season.
Hegerberg, however, expressed frustration about living “in such a man’s world” and said the award will not make her reconsider her refusal to play for Norway, including at next June’s Women’s World Cup, because of her unhappiness over perceived inequality.
“A lot of things need to be done to make the conditions better for women who play football,” she said.
“… I would like to end this speech, with some words to young girls all over the world. Please believe in yourself.”
France Football magazine has been awarding the Ballon d’Or – until now only to men – since 1956.
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