US women’s goalkeeper Hope Solo has accused former FIFA president Sepp Blatter of sexually assaulting her at an awards ceremony in 2013.
Solo told Portuguese newspaper, Expresso, that Blatter grabbed her ass backstage at the Ballon d’Or awards gala before Solo presented the women’s player of the year award.
“I had Sepp Blatter grab my ass,” she said. “It was at the Ballon d’Or, right before I went on stage. [Sexual harassment] has been normalised.”
The keeper said she promptly composed herself before presenting the award to her American teammate Abby Wambach.
“I speak out directly [with people] when things like that happen. … In the case of Sepp Blatter, I went on the stage, I was nervous for the presentation … It was the Ballon D’Or I was presenting.
“After that I didn’t see him and that was kind of bad. I didn’t get to tell him directly ‘Don’t ever touch me!’ That’s the way I’ve always handled things. Directly.
“While in this instance it was Sepp Blatter, who was the most powerful man in football at the time, sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour are rampant at every level in women’s sport and it needs to stop.
“I was in shock and completely thrown off. 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.”
Reacting, Blatter told the Guardian that the “allegation is ridiculous”.
On October 16, Solo expressed support for women who had stood up against sexual harassment.