French DJ and musician Martin Solveig apologized on Monday after asking Norwegian soccer star Ada Hegerberg if she knew how to twerk, just minutes after she won the inaugural Ballon d'Or award as the world's best women's player.
After accepting her trophy, Hegerberg interacted with Solveig as part of the awards ceremony in Paris and promptly responded "no" when asked in French about the suggestive dance.
The two shared a brief dance as the ceremony moved forward, but Solveig's question led to widespread criticism online and he said after the show that he was sorry for causing offense.
"I'm a little bit amazed as to what I'm reading on the internet," Solveig said. "I of course didn't want to offend anyone. This comes from a distortion of my English level and my English culture level which is obviously not enough because obviously I didn't mean to offend anyone and I didn't know that this could be seen as such an offence, especially if you consider the sequence in total when we ended up dancing to Frank Sinatra.
"This was a joke, probably a bad one, and I want to apologise for the ones I may have offended. Sorry about that."
Hegerberg told the BBC that the incident did not immediately detract from her happiness in winning the Ballon d'Or, the prestigious award that France Football magazine has awarded to men since 1956 but was presenting to a woman for the first time this year.
"He came to me afterwards and was really sad that it went that way," the Lyon striker said. "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. I will have a glass of champagne when I get back, yes."
Among those to express outrage at Solveig's question was former U.S. men's national team player Stu Holden, who wrote on Twitter: "Let's not let one idiot's sexism and ignorance shadow what is an incredible achievement and honor."
Hegerberg hasn't played for Norway's national team since 2017 because of what she describes as a lack of respect for female players in her country, and she told the Associated Press that she has no plans to reconsider that decision.