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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

Martin Solveig, Ada Hegerberg and the Ballon d'Or twerking furore explained

Crass comment at the award ceremony sparked outrage

What happened?

The annual Ballon d'Or ceremony brought together football's finest at the Grand Palais in Paris.

While Luka Modric ended the decade of Lionel Messi-Cristiano Ronaldo domination of the men's award, there was a women’s award for the Ballon d'Or for the first time ever. The until-now-men's-only award has been organised by France Football magazine since 1956.

The inaugural women's award was won by Norwegian Ada Hegerberg, 23, a three-time Women’s Champions League winner with French side Lyon.

“I want to say thanks to France Football. It’s a huge step for women’s football,” Hegerberg said. “I want to end this speech with a message to all young girls in the world. Believe in yourselves.”

Then French DJ Martin Solveig, who had been playing music throughout the event, asked her "Do you know how to twerk?". For those unaware, twerking is a provocative dance style, utilised by everyone from Miley Cyrus to Nicki Minaj.

Hegerberg looked none too pleased.

What was the reaction?

Social media, unsurprisingly, went crazy with complaints about sexism. Those who took to Twitter included former Liverpool footballer and fellow Norwegian John Arne Riise, and Jan Aage Fjortoft, another Norwegian who played in the English Premier League.

Meanwhile, tennis star Andy Murray said on Instagram: "Another example of the ridiculous sexism that still exists in sport. What questions did they ask Mbappe and Modric? I'd imagine something to do with football.

"To everyone who thinks people are overreacting and it was just a joke... it wasn't. I've been involved in sport my whole life and the level of sexism is unreal," the tennis player added.

Who is Martin Solveig?

He's a 42-year-old French DJ, singer-songwriter and record producer who specialises in house and electro music. The National's music expert Saeed Saeed spoke to Solveig last year and described how his "potent and multi-layered compositions" were "derived from his classical-music training".

At the age of 18 he began making a name for himself in the ­European dance community, with gigs at famous Parisian night spots L’Enfer and Les Bains Douches. "When it comes to making music I stick to two basic principles – following my instinct and having fun doing what I do” Solveig said.

He's worked with Madonna and had a residency at Ibiza super-club Pacha. He has 575,000 followers on Twitter and another 444,000 on Instagram.

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Did he respond to the criticism?

Yes, he took to Twitter to try to quell the outrage, writing: "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.

He then posted an image of him with Hegerberg and said she understood his "joke".

Did Hegerberg speak out?

She refrained from mentioning the incident on social media, instead concentrating on her award.

When interviewed afterwards she told skysports.com: "He came to me afterwards and was really sad that it went that way. I didn't really think about it at the time to be honest.

"I didn't really consider it a sexual harassment or anything in the moment. I was just happy to do the dance and win the Ballon d'Or to be honest."

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Updated: December 4, 2018 01:53 PM

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