The disgraced former head of FIFA, soccer’s international governing body, has been accused of sexual harassment by one of the biggest female soccer stars on the planet.
United States goalkeeper Hope Solo accused Sepp Blatter of sexual harassment on Friday, yet another alleged sexual misconduct by a man in a position of power that’s been made public in recent weeks. Blatter is already serving a ban from FIFA after he was ousted for a variety of crimes that rocked international soccer in recent years, but the serious accusation from Solo is an entirely new wrong for Blatter.
Solo claimed that Blatter sexually assaulted her at the 2013 Ballon d’Or awards ceremony in January of that year before she went on stage to present an award to fellow American Abby Wambach.
“I had Sepp Blatter grab my ass,” Solo told the Portugese newspaper Expresso according to a story published by The Guardian on Friday. “It was at the Ballon d’Or, right before I went on stage. [Sexual harassment] has been normalised.”
The paper detailed more of her interview with the paper as well as Blatter’s response to the allegations.
In an interview with the Portuguese newspaper Expresso, being published on Saturday, Solo, 36, claimed she “had Sepp Blatter grab my ass” at the glittering presentation of Fifa’s annual football awards for achievement during 2012. Solo presented the Fifa women’s world player of the year award on stage alongside Blatter, to her colleague on the USA team that had won the gold medal at the London Olympics, the striker Abby Wambach.
Blatter, contacted via his spokesman, responded to Solo’s recollection by denying that the incident took place. “This allegation is ridiculous,” he said.
Solo said she had to compose herself and appear onstage after the incident, but said she was in “shock” over Blatter’s actions.
“I was in shock and completely thrown off,” Solo told The Guardian on Friday. “I had to quickly pull myself together to present my team-mate with the biggest award of her career and celebrate with her in that moment, so I completely shifted my focus to Abby.”
Solo points out that sexual harassment has been “normalized” and accepted for far too long. Listening to her allegations and (if true) seeking consequences for what she claims Blatter did is a step toward correcting that.