U.S. soccer star Hope Solo has accused former FIFA President Sepp Blatter of sexually assaulting her in 2013 during the Ballon d’Or awards ceremony. Blatter’s accusation comes at a when the entertainment industry especially the Hollywood is enmeshed in various sexual scandal.
Solo, a former goalkeeper of the U.S. women’s national team, told a Portuguese newspaper Expresso, that Blatter grabbed her buttocks as they prepared to take the stage for the award.
Her comment was sparked by a question asked whether sexual harassment had been normalised. A representative for Solo confirmed to Associated Press that the report was accurate and said she had no further comment on the matter.
Blatter could not immediately be reached for comment by the AP, but the embattled former head of soccer’s governing body told the Guardian newspaper: “This allegation is ridiculous.” Solo has been dogged by a number of off- the-field controversies.
Notably, a domestic violence case stemming from a 2014 altercation at a family member’s home in Washington state. Solo anchored the U.S. team in goal during its 2015 Women’s World Cup championship run, allowing just three goals in seven games with five shutouts during the tournament. For her career, Solo has made 202 total appearances with the national team, with 153 wins and an international-record 102 shutouts.
Solo’s tenure with the national team ended following last year’s Olympics in Brazil, when the Americans were ousted by Sweden in the quarterfinals. Afterward, 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 U.S. 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. U.S. forward Alex Morgan has said that 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.