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Opinion: It doesn't get much weirder than being asked to twerk but Ada Hegerberg reacted like a real star

I was really impressed with the dignity of how Hegerberg handled the sexist question at the Ballon d’Or awards. She is an outstanding role model for young women around the world, writes Louise Quinn.

Louise Quinn

IT WAS FANTASTIC to see female footballers finally being recognised at the Ballon d’Or awards – the most prestigious awards in football, this week.

It was a momentous occasion for women footballers and fans – as well as for equality in sports.

Of course, its a shame that such an occasion was marred by a sexist question when the presenter asked the winner, Norway star forward Ada Hegerberg, if she could twerk.

That incident was very disappointing. I think women’s football has made great progress in recent years as has women’s sport in general, but it is clear that sexism is still a problem. 

It’s pretty obvious when it comes to the questions that some interviewers ask female players – would they have ever have asked any of the lads that question?

I was impressed that Hegerberg handled the incident with great dignity and professionalism, with the way she shunned the question and showed her disappointment, her body language said it all.
She was still able to go on and give a very good acceptance speech and she is an outstanding role model for young women around the world.

Her handling of the whole debacle just goes to show how resilient we are as women – but it shouldn’t be something that we should have to get used to.

Personally I have been quite lucky, but certainly my teammates have experienced being asked awkward, inappropriate questions. Some say they have been asked personal questions about their relationships that wouldn’t be asked of a male sports person. 

I’ve certainly heard a few horror stories, and really it couldn’t get much weirder than – “do you want to twerk?”

The presenter said it was a joke – but there is a time and place for personal jokes.

It took away from Hegerberg’s big moment and in some ways, it tarnished her achievement but the incident has also drawn attention to sexism in sport.

For women to be recognised on the world stage in football’s most important awards is real progress and hopefully, we can keep building on that and make football an equal playing field.

In recent years several other major football awards have started to include women.

The Professional Footballers Association in England started to nominate a female player of the year in 2012/2013. That same year UEFA also launched a female player of the year award.

Its only right that women are getting these awards and it is definitely a step in the right direction. We are training just as hard as the male athletes, and putting in the same hours.

As well as awards though we need recognition of our hard work from football fans and the media as well.

I’d like to see more women playing and getting involved in coaching and refereeing. The FAI ran an all-female coaching course recently and things like that are just as important as awards.

As women, we have to look at ourselves and take responsibility for growing the sport as well.

Perhaps this incident should serve as an inspiration to all of us to fight harder to ensure that young girls who take up football today, don’t have to face objectification and inappropriate questions. 

In our efforts to do that, players like Ada Hegerberg are an inspiration to us all.

Even though she got this knockback of being asked a ridiculous question she wasn’t going to let it ruin her big moment. It is leadership and vision from people like her that will help us to stamp out sexism in sport.

Louise Quinn is a defender for Ireland and Arsenal.

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Louise Quinn

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