Hope Solo, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and goalkeeper for the US women’s soccer team says she was groped by the sport’s then-most powerful man in 2013.
Solo, 36, said that Sepp Blatter, 81, then the president of international soccer organizers Fifa, ‘grabbed her a**’ just before they were to give her teammate an award for player of the year.
She revealed that she had been ‘nervous’ before the event, and was left ‘in shock’ just seconds before they were to go on stage for what would be one of the biggest moments in her friend’s life.
Solo made the revelations in an interview with Portuguese paper Tribuna Expresso.
The player was at the Ballon d’Or Awards to present the female player of the year award to USA teammate Abby Wambach.
Blatter, who resigned from Fifa in 2015 amid a bribery scandal, grabbed her ‘right before I went on stage,’ she alleged.
Representatives of the former Fifa president were quick to deny the claim telling newspapers: ‘This allegation is ridiculous.’
She later elaborated on the claim to The Guardian, saying: ‘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.’
Footage from the night shows Solo seemingly stuttering over her words – possibly through anger or discomfort – and glancing repeatedly at Blatter.
Solo told Expresso that she’d never brought up the issue before because usually ‘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**king 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.’