U.S. international goalkeeper Hope Solo has accused former FIFA president Sepp Blatter of sexually assaulting her at the 2013 Ballon d’Or awards gala.
In an interview with the Portuguese newspaper Expresso, Solo claimed that she “had Blatter grab my ass” backstage of the event in Zurich, Switzerland prior presenting the FIFA Women’s World player of the year award to then teammate Abby Wambach.
“I had Sepp Blatter grab my ass,” she told Expresso. “It was at the Ballon d’Or, right before I went on stage. [Sexual harassment] has been normalized.”
In a later interview with The Guardian, the 36-year-old Solo said that she had to compose herself to concentrate on giving her speech in the award presentation.
“I was in shock and completely thrown off,” she told the newspaper. “I had to quickly pull myself together to present my teammate with the biggest award of her career and celebrate with her in that moment, so I completely shifted my focus to Abby.”
A Blatter spokesman said: “this allegation is ridiculous.”
Solo spoke about sexism and sexual assault in sports to Expresso, when she appeared at the Web Summit event in Lisbon.
“For years, in the past, female players date and end up marrying their college coaches, which obviously a coach should not be doing, especially with a young player,” she told Expresso. “I’ve seen it not just with coaches. I’ve seen it with trainers, doctors and our press officers … I’ve seen it amongst players in the locker room. It’s rampant.
“I’m actually very disappointed with the women who haven’t spoken about it in the sports world … I wish more women, especially in football, would speak against it, about the experiences, because some of those people still work [in football].”
Solo is the most capped goalkeeper in the world, having played 202 times for the U.S. in a career that has included a Women’s World Cup title (2015) and two Olympic gold medals (2008 and 2012).
She has not played for the U.S. since the 2016 Rio Olympics due to a shoulder injury and a six-month suspension imposed by U.S. Soccer.
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