The wave of sexual assault and harassment allegations against powerful men in entertainment and media is now breaching the sports world.
In an upcoming interview with Portuguese newspaper Expresso, United States soccer star Hope Solo, standout goalkeeper of USWNT team that won the 2015 World Cup, details an incident with former FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
Solo accuses Blatter of “grabbing her ass” just seconds before she presented teammate Abby Wambach with the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year at the 2013 Ballon D’Or ceremony.
From The Guardian:
Talking to Expresso about sexual harassment in general, which Solo says is “rampant” in sport, she claimed Blatter grabbed her behind seconds before they both went on stage: “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.”
Expanding on the alleged incident on Friday, Solo told the Guardian that she had to compose herself immediately afterwards to concentrate on making her speech and giving the presentation to Wambach. “I was in shock and completely thrown off,” Solo said. “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.”
As the #metoo campaign, in which women have spoken out about rampant sexual harassment and assault, began to gain serious traction following the allegations against Hollywood titan Harvey Weinstein, Solo posted about her own experiences on Instagram.
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
Blatter was the FIFA president from 1998-2015, but is currently serving a six-year ban from the organization after the U.S. state department, FBI, and IRS launched an investigation into FIFA corruption, causing his ouster.
Blatter responded to the story through a spokesperson, calling the allegation “ridiculous,” according to The Guardian.