US soccer star Hope Solo accuses disgraced former Fifa president Sepp Blatter of sexual assault
Blatter says the allegation is ‘ridiculous’ that he grabbed Solo at the Ballon d’Or awards ceremony in 2013
United States soccer star Hope Solo told a Portuguese newspaper that former Ffia President Sepp Blatter sexually assaulted her at the Ballon d’Or awards ceremony in 2013.
In an interview published on Friday in the newspaper Expresso, two-time Olympic gold medallist Solo said Blatter grabbed her rear end shortly before the two appeared onstage at the annual soccer awards event.
A representative for 36-year-old Solo confirmed the report was accurate and said the former goalkeeper for the US women’s national team had no further comment on the matter.
Blatter could not immediately be reached for comment, but the embattled former head of soccer’s governing body told The Guardian newspaper: “This allegation is ridiculous.”
Solo anchored the US team in goal during their 2015 Women’s World Cup championship run, allowing just three goals in seven games with five shutouts during the tournament.
Solo has made 202 appearances for the national team, with 153 wins and an international-record 102 clean sheets.
Solo’s tenure with the national team ended following last year’s Olympics in Brazil, when the Americans were beaten by Sweden in the quarter-finals. Afterwards, Solo called the Swedish team “cowards” for their defensive style of play.
She was suspended from the team shortly thereafter and has not returned.
Blatter was suspended from office and banned from soccer for six years following allegations of a widespread corruption scandal that came to light in 2015.
Both US and Swiss officials cooperated in the investigation, which is ongoing, and more than 40 people have been indicted.
Blatter has also had a history of what many consider to be sexist behaviour concerning the women’s game.
US forward Alex Morgan has said Blatter failed to recognise her at the annual award event in 2012, even though she was one of three nominees for the women’s player of the year.
Blatter also famously argued in 2004 that players could boost the popularity of the women’s game by wearing tighter shorts.