Hope Solo Says Sepp Blatter Sexually Assaulted Her at 2013 Ballon d'Or Awards

Gianni VerschuerenFeatured ColumnistNovember 10, 2017

United States goalkeeper Hope Solo stands as players listen to the national anthems before a women's Olympic football tournament match against New Zealand at the Mineirao stadium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016. Solo says she was not bothered by fans who chanted
Eugenio Savio/Associated Press

Former USWNT goalkeeper Hope Solo says former FIFA president Sepp Blatter sexually assaulted her at the 2013 Ballon d'Or awards. Blatter has denied the allegations. 

Speaking to Expresso's Nelson Marques (h/t the Guardian's David Conn and Nelson Marques), Solo said Blatter touched her in an inappropriate manner just moments before the two took the stage together:

"I had Sepp Blatter grab my ass. It was at the Ballon d’Or, right before I went on stage. [Sexual harassment] has been normalised. ...

"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 (Wambach)."

Via a spokesperson, Blatter said: "This allegation is ridiculous."

Solo also took to Instagram to express her support for the ongoing #MeToo campaign, which aims to raise awareness of sexual assault and harassment. In the post, she gave numerous examples of things that have happened to her, including one that appears to refer to her recent comments:

The veteran stopper ranks among the greatest players in USWNT history, winning two Olympic gold medals and the 2015 World Cup. She hasn't featured for the team since 2016, however, following a suspension and the termination of her contract as a result of controversial comments, per Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated

Per Conn and Marques, five-time FIFA president Blatter has made multiple sexist remarks over the course of his career. The 81-year-old resigned in 2015 and was subsequently banned for ethics breaches.