Ex-US keeper Hope Solo claims former FIFA chief 'grabbed' her buttock

Sepp Blatter, who had a history of sexist remarks denied her claims.

Hope Solo
Hope Solo Reuters

Hope Solo, the former US women's football team goalkeeper has said on 10 November that she was sexually harassed by the ex-FIFA President Sepp Blatter.

During an interview with a Portuguese newspaper 'Tribuna Expreso', Solo claimed that Blatter 'grabbed' her buttock before the Ballon d'Or awards night in January 2013.

The 36-year-old said the incident happened before she went on stage along with Blatter to FIFA's women's Player of The Year award to her compatriot Abby Wambach in Zürich.

"I had Sepp Blatter grab my ass," said the two-time Olympic gold medalist Solo in the interview.

"OK. I had Sepp Blatter grab my ass. Can I talk about that? It was at the Ballon d'Or one year, right before I went on stage... It's been normalized," she further added.

Solo added that she had seen sexual harassment in sports throughout her entire career and have requested other female athletes to speak up about their experience.

"This is what I can say: I'm actually very disappointed with the women who haven't spoken about it in the sports world. Yes, everybody has their individual decisions, and it is uncomfortable, but I wish more women, especially in football, would speak against it, about their experiences, because some of those people still work there and some of the players still act in these behaviours," she said.

"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. I don't know why more players don't speak out against it," she added.

However, the former chief of world's premier soccer organization, who had a history of sexist remarks, denied her claims.

According to The Guardian, a spokesman for Blatter said that "This allegation is ridiculous."

Reports say, in 2004 the 81-year-old Blatter had proposed that mid-thigh shorts should be replaced by hot-pants for women players.

'Let the women play in more feminine clothes like they do in volleyball. They could, for example, have tighter shorts. Female players are pretty if you excuse me for saying so, and they already have some different rules to men - such as playing with a lighter ball," said Blatter.

Blatter who became FIFA's president in 1998, was found guilty in 2015 for money laundering by Fifa's ethics committee and in December 2016 he was called banned from the sports.