Joseph Blatter, former president of Fifa, has been accused by Hope Solo, former US goalkeeper of sexual assault during the Ballon d'Or ceremony in 2013, according to Portuguese weekly Expresso and published, and expanded upon, by the Guardian.
36 year old Solo, who now plays for Seattle Reign FC in the US National Women's Soccer League, says in the interview in Expresso, to be published on Saturday, that she "had Sepp Blatter grab my ass. It was at the Ballon d’Or, right before I went on stage. Sexual harassment has been normalised".
Solo was presenting the Fifa women's player of the year award alongside Blatter, to her USA teammate striker Abby Wambach.
The Guardian contacted the player to expand on what had happened and she told them: "I was in shock and completely thrown off. 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.”
Blatter, speaking through his spokesman, denied the incident. "This allegation is ridiculous", he said.
Solo was also asked why she hadn't spoken out about the incident before. She said that she prefers to confront people directly, and that with Blatter the incident took place seconds before they went on stage, and she was unable to to confront him at that point and didn't have an opportunity later on. She said she hasn't seen him since.
Solo said in her comments to the Guardian that sexual harassment in sport needs to be dealt with: “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.”