Hope Solo Accuses Ex-FIFA Head of Sexual Assault
She says Sepp Blatter groped her backstage during a 2013 awards show
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 10, 2017 6:30 PM CST
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In this Jan. 7, 2013 file photo, Abby Wambach is presented the FIFA Women's World Player of the Year award by Hope Solo and FIFA President Sepp Blatter during the FIFA Ballon d'Or Gala held at the Kongresshaus in Zurich, Switzerland.   (AP Photo/Keystone, Steffen Schmidt, File)

(Newser) – Soccer player Hope Solo says she was sexually assaulted by the former president of FIFA during the 2013 Ballon d'Or awards ceremony, the New York Daily News reports. The goalkeeper for the US Women's National Team tells Portuguese newspaper Tribuna Expresso that she "had Sepp Blatter grab my ass" backstage just before they presented the FIFA women's player of the year award to Solo's teammate Abby Wambach. “I was in shock and completely thrown off,” Solo tells the Guardian. “I had to quickly pull myself together." She says she regrets that the situation didn't give her time to confront Blatter. "I didn’t get to tell him directly, ‘Don’t ever touch me!’" she tells Expresso. "That’s the way I’ve always handled things. Directly."

A spokesperson for Blatter tells the Guardian that Solo's "allegation is ridiculous." But as the Harvey Weinstein story was breaking last month, Solo posted on Instagram that sexual harassment is "rampant in the sports world." She said she and her teammates have had "uncomfortable situations" with "trainers, doctors, coaches, executives and even teammates." That includes "inappropriate comments, unwanted advances and grabs of the ass to coaches and GMs and even press officers speaking about players 'tits' and physical appearance." Solo tells Expresso she wishes more athletes would speak up about harassment and abuse.

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