Ada Hegerberg has become the first recipient of the women’s Ballon d’Or – the highest honour in football. But her achievement was marred somewhat when the award ceremony’s host, DJ Martin Solveig, asked her at the very moment she collected the trophy if she knew “how to twerk”. Hegerberg said a firm “no” and walked off stage.
The stunned reaction of some audience members has been described as “straight to GIF.” Solveig apologised and Hegerberg – an object lesson in graciousness throughout – was understanding.
Twitter was less lenient and erupted in righteous anger. Solveig must have wondered if he had any sort of a career left.
In an excellent piece in The Guardian Marina Hyde pointed out that Solveig’s apology fell under what she called the “this-is-not-who-I-am defence.”
The phrase seems to be a close cousin of the “misunderstanding” and “quoted out of context.” Not forgetting their embarrassing uncle “only banter.”
As Hyde writes: “[It] gets a lot of run-outs these days, as camera-phones catch non-racist people being racist on buses, non-homophobic people screaming abuse at gay people outside a nightclub, or any of the other variants that increasingly adorn the age. The point is: this is not who they are.
Very occasionally, the person saying the thing is saying it on a stage, in front of a large audience and multiple television cameras and is deploying remarks they have worked out in advance. But this, too, is not who those people are.”
Now, back to the defence: Solveig had also asked the male winner Luka Modric to dance. If he’d asked Hegerberg if she could waltz say, I don’t think it would have even caused a ripple. He says it was a language problem – he seems to be arguing that he didn’t realise the very sexual nature of the “twerk.”
I’d be useless on a jury. But in this month of goodwill to all men, shall we give him the benefit of the doubt? And reflect that possibly more important, and more “this is definitely what football is,” could be the fact that the Ballon d’Or has been presented since 1956 and it’s only this year that anyone thought to introduce a women’s award.