Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter has been accused of sexual assault by former United States women’s national team goalkeeper Hope Solo. She says that the incident occurred at the 2012 FIFA Ballon d’Or ceremony, when she was part of the presentation of the Women’s World Player of the Year award to her teammate, Abby Wambach.
“I had Sepp Blatter grab my ass,” Solo said, describing the incident to Portuguese outlet Expresso. “It was at the Ballon d’Or, right before I went on stage.”
“I was in shock and completely thrown off,” Solo said, expanding on the story in a separate interview with The Guardian. “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 went on to say that she’d witnessed harassment by coaches, general managers and press officers during her time as a professional soccer player, and that she hoped speaking out about her incident with Blatter would inspire others to speak up so that perpetrators of sexual harassment could face consequences.
In 2004, Blatter was widely criticized for sexist comments about women’s soccer. He suggested that women should play in tighter shorts than men because “beautiful women play football nowadays.”
Blatter has denied Solo’s accusation through his spokesperson.