Former FIFA President Joseph "Sepp" Blatter became the latest high-profile men to be accused of sexual assault after former Washington Huskies and Seattle Reign FC goalie Hope Solo said he grabbed her at an award ceremony.
Solo, 36, presented on the stage to present Federation Internationale de Football Association women's world player of the year alongside Blatter, to her colleague and striker Abby Wambach on the U.S. team that had won the gold medal at the London Olympics.
"Sepp Blatter grabbed my ass, it was a few years ago at the Ballon d'Or ceremony just before I got on stage", Solo told Portuguese newspaper Expresso.
The 81-year-old Blatter served as Federation Internationale de Football Association president for almost 17 years before being kicked out of office and suspended amid accusations of widespread corruption.
On the official Fifa film of the event, which was hosted by the Dutch football legend Ruud Gullit and the broadcaster Kay Murray, Solo was shown coming on to the stage with Blatter from behind a curtain at the back of the stage, to present the award to Wambach.
Solo, a World Cup victor and two-time Olympic champion, said sexual harassment in sport was "rampant" and that she hoped more athletes would speak out against it. "[Sexual harassment] has been normalised", the Guardian quoted Solo, as saying.
FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter talks with Hope Solo of United States of America after the FIFA Women's World Cup Final match between Japan and US at the FIFA Women's World Cup Stadium on July 17, 2011 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. "After [the ceremony] I have not seen and have not been able to confront it", said the sport.
In a brief answer to the BBC when quizzed on the allegations, Blatter's spokesperson refuted the assertions made by Solo. I've seen it with trainers, doctors and our press officers. She had to pull herself together quickly to give the award to Wambach. Solo used the opportunity to write about the "rampant" culture of harassment in sports. "Silence will not change the world!"
"I've seen it in sports". I've seen it amongst players in the locker room.
Solo is the United States' record appearance-maker with 202 caps but was handed a six-month suspension by her national federation after branding Sweden's players "a bunch of cowards" in the aftermath of her team's 2016 Olympic quarter-final defeat on penalties. Days later, when congratulating the new female members of the executive committee, he said: "Are there ladies in the room?"
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According to TMZ , the statute of limitations is not up and as such, the charges could lead to a criminal investigation. At that time, he concluded by saying, "I understand and empathise with those who have remained silent".
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