Hope Solo accuses Sepp Blatter of sexual assault at Ballon d'Or awards ceremony The 36-year-old made the claims in an interview with a Portuguese newspaper

Former Fifa president Sepp Blatter has been accused of sexually assaulting Hope Solo, the USA women’s football team goalkeeper, at the Ballon d’Or  awards ceremony in January 2013.
The 36-year-old claimed she “had Sepp Blatter grab my ass” at the awards event, but Blatter, via a spokeman, denied the allegations, calling them “ridiculous”.
Solo presented the award for Fifa women’s player of the year that year on stage alongside Blatter to her colleague Abby Wambach after the USA won gold at the Olympics in London in 2012.
In the interview with Portuguese newspaper Expresso, Solo claimed that the sexual assault had happened just moments before the pair went on stage together to present the award.
“I had Sepp Blatter grab my ass,” she said. “It was at the Ballon d’Or, right before I went on stage. [Sexual harassment] has been normalised.
“For years, in the past, female players date and end up marrying their college coaches, which obviously a coach should not be doing, especially with a young player.
“I’ve seen it not just with coaches. I’ve seen it with trainers, doctors and our press officers ... I’ve seen it amongst players in the locker room. It’s rampant.
Sepp Blatter
Blatter was banned from football following an investigation from Fifa's independent ethics committee (Getty)
“I’m actually very disappointed with the women who haven’t spoken about it in the sports world … I wish more women, especially in football, would speak against it, about the experiences, because some of those people still work [in football].”
When asked why she had never brought it up previously, Solo admitted it is because she usually like to take it up with the person directly, rather than flush it out to the press.
“I speak out directly [with people] when things like that happen. In other cases, for instance, I've told my teammates: ‘Don't ever f***ing touch me! Don't do it’. It has been in the showers, it's been in the locker room... I usually speak directly with the person.
“In the case of Sepp Blatter, I went on the stage, I was nervous for the presentation... It was the Ballon d'Or I was presenting.
“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!’ That's the way I've always handled things. Directly.”
When she expanded on the alleged incident, Solo told the Guardian: “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.
hope-solo.jpg
Solo has played for the USA since 2000 (Getty)
“For years, in the past, female players date and end up marrying their college coaches, which obviously a coach should not be doing, especially with a young player,” she said. “I’ve seen it not just with coaches. I’ve seen it with trainers, doctors and our press officers ... I’ve seen it amongst players in the locker room. It’s rampant.
“I’m actually very disappointed with the women who haven’t spoken about it in the sports world … I wish more women, especially in football, would speak against it, about the experiences, because some of those people still work [in football].”
It is not the first time Blatter, who won five elections as Fifa president between 1998 and 2015 before being banned for ethic breaches, has faced criticism for his treatment of women.
In 2004 he came under pressure after a suggestion that female players could wear “tighter shorts” like “they do in volleyball” to make the game more appealing to a male audience, while in 2013 he called a female member of Fifa’s executive committee “good, and good looking”.
Hope Solo accuses Sepp Blatter of sexual assault at Ballon d'Or awards ceremony The 36-year-old made the claims in an interview with a Portuguese newspaper Hope Solo accuses Sepp Blatter of sexual assault at Ballon d'Or awards ceremony The 36-year-old made the claims in an interview with a Portuguese newspaper Reviewed by Alexander Von Stern on 23:09:00 Rating: 5