Ada Hegerberg celebrated her award at the ceremony in Paris Monday night. She is the first female player to win the prestigious prize. Christophe Ena/Associated Press
It was meant to be a moment of triumph. Ada Hegerberg, a 23-year-old Norwegian soccer player, had just become the first woman to win the Ballon d’Or, one of soccer’s most prestigious individual honors.
But for some, the historic moment was quickly spoiled when, in an onstage exchange after her acceptance speech on Monday, the French D.J. Martin Solveig asked Ms. Hegerberg something that had nothing to do with her expertise: whether she knew how to twerk.
“No,” Ms. Hegerberg said, quickly dismissing the idea.
The exchange took off on social media, where critics — including some high-profile athletes — accused Mr. Solveig of sexism and assailed him for undermining a moment of professional achievement with a reference to the provocative dance move. The controversy nearly overshadowed the news that Luka Modric beat Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi for the men’s Ballon d’Or. The award for best player had been reserved for male players from its inception in 1956, until the women’s Ballon d’Or was created this year.
“This is an absolute joke,” Lindsey Horan, a United States women’s team midfielder who was one of the finalists for the women’s Ballon d’Or, tweeted in response to Mr. Solveig’s comment. She offered her support for Ms. Hegerberg: “Congrats and you do not deserve this.”
Andy Murray, the tennis star, also condemned the comment in a post on Instagram. “To everyone who thinks people are overreacting and it was just a joke.. It wasn’t,” he wrote. “I’ve been involved in sport my whole life and the level of sexism is unreal.”
A French D.J., Martin Solveig, left, said he was “amazed” by the criticism he…