The sex assault allegations swirling around the entertainment industry could be spreading to sport, with new claims about disgraced former FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
He has been accused of inappropriately “grabbing” United States goalkeeper Hope Solo.
In an interview with Portuguese newspaper Expresso, the world cup winner claimed, “I had Sepp Blatter grab my ass”.
Blatter, 81, who ran the sport’s world governing body from 1998 to 2015, told Expresso the allegation was “ridiculous” via his spokesman.
Solo, 36, said the incident occurred “right before she went on stage” at the Ballon d’Or ceremony in 2013, where she presented the FIFA women’s world player of the year award alongside Blatter.
The goalkeeper also told the newspaper she thought sexual harassment had been “normalised” in sport and she wished more women spoke out about the issue.
“I’m actually very disappointed with the women who haven’t spoken about it in the sports world,” she said.
“I had some bad experiences with players who are still on the team. I think it is important to acknowledge that this doesn’t just happen with the powerful white men.”
Asked why she didn’t come forward about her experience with Blatter earlier, Solo said she didn’t have the opportunity to confront him in person – her usual tactic for dealing with situations like that.
“I usually speak directly with the person. In the case of Sepp Blatter, I went on the stage, I was nervous for the presentation … After that I didn’t see him and that was kind of bad. I didn’t get to tell him directly ‘Don’t ever touch me!'” she explained.
Expanding on the incident in The Guardian, Solo said the encounter left her “in shock and completely thrown off”.
FIFA’s corruption scandal forced Blatter to resign in 2015 and later that year the organisation’s ethics committee imposed an eight-year ban from the game which was reduced to six years on appeal.
In 2004 he made headlines for suggesting female players should wear “tighter shorts” to attract more attention to the game.
Solo has not played for the US national team since she was suspended for calling Sweden’s national team “a bunch of cowards” after their match at the 2016 Olympics.
For the past few days, I have been thinking about all the uncomfortable situations myself and/or my teammates have experienced throughout the years with trainers, doctors, coaches, executives and even teammates. From inappropriate comments, unwanted advances and grabs of the ass to coaches and GMs 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! #MeToo
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