Former U.S. international goalkeeper and World Cup winner, Hope Solo, 36, has accused ex-FIFA president Sepp Blatter, 81, of sexual assault.
In an interview with the Portuguese outlet published on Saturday, Solo claimed Blatter “grabbed my ass” at FIFA’s Ballon d’Or awards ceremony in January 2013, where she presented the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year award on stage alongside Blatter.
Solo said that after the assault, she had to compose herself to make a speech before she handed the award to her U.S. teammate Abby Wambach.
She told The Guardian:
“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.”
However, Blatter has denied the allegation, saying: “This allegation is ridiculous.”
Over the past month, celebrities have been speaking out about sexual harassment by people in power.
When Expresso interviewed Solo about the incident, she admitted that “I had Sepp Blatter grab my ass.”
“Can I talk about that?” she continued. “It was at the Ballon d’Or one year, right before I went on stage … It’s been normalized.”
Solo also took to social media to praise those who have spoken out against sexual harassment using the hashtag #MeToo.
“For the past few days, I have been thinking about all the uncomfortable situations myself and/or my team-mates have experienced throughout the years with trainers, doctors, coaches, executives and even team-mates,” she wrote on Instagram. “From inappropriate comments, unwanted advances and grabs of the ass to coaches and [general managers] and even press officers speaking about players’ ‘tits’ and physical appearance, sexual harassment is rampant in the sports world. I always felt I’d ‘handled it’ and stood up for myself in those situations, but there were never any consequences for the perpetrators. That needs to change. Silence will not change the world!”
Solo joined the U.S. women’s national team in 2000 but has not played for the nation since the 2016 Olympics in Rio. She was suspended for six months by U.S. Soccer for calling Swedish players a “bunch of cowards” but hasn’t returned to the team since then.
Solo has won two Olympic gold medals and the 2015 World Cup.