Football: Norwegian star Ada Hegerberg squirms after tasteless 'twerking' quip

What began as a long-overdue tribute to the world's best female footballers took a turn for the awkward at the annual Ballon d'Or presentations in Paris on Tuesday (NZT).

Norwegian Ada Hegerberg made history as the first recipient of the women's award - 62 years after the men's trophy was first presented - but tried to flee the stage, after host Martin Solveig asked if she knew how to 'twerk'.

"You've seen that I prepared a little celebration for Kylian [Mbappe], so we said we're going to do something similar," warned the French DJ. "Do you know how to twerk?"

Hegerberg appeared embarrassed by the question, which was widely interpreted as a request, and began to flee the stage, before she was turned back to complete the interview.

The audience - including French star Mbappe, who had won the best U21 award - appeared to share his discomfort and social media erupted in outrage.

Solveig, who is perhaps best known for the pop hit 'Hello', tried to tweet an apology, but only succeeded in stirring the pot further.

"Sincere apologies to the one I may have offended," he wrote. "My point was I don't invite 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."

In a posted video, he claims: "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.

"This was a joke, probably a bad one, and I want to apologise for the one I may have offended. Sorry about that."