U.S. women’s soccer star Hope Solo on Friday accused Sepp Blatter of sexual assault, claiming the disgraced former FIFA president groped her backside at the 2013 Ballon d’Or ceremony.
Solo, 36, her country’s standout goalkeeper, said Blatter, 81, committed the act shortly before she was to present an award to her teammate Abby Wambach.
“It was a few years ago at the Ballon d’Or ceremony, just before I got on stage,” Solo told Portuguese newspaper Expresso.
A spokesman for Blatter, however, said the accusation was “ridiculous.”
Solo, a World Cup winner and two-time Olympic champion, made the allegation on the sidelines of the Web Summit being held in Lisbon.
She said sexual harassment on the part of male officials was a common problem in women’s soccer.
“I have seen this all of my career, and I would like to see more athletes speak about their experiences,” said Solo.
“It’s out of control, not just in Hollywood but everywhere,” she added, referring to the firestorm of sexual harassment allegations in entertainment, politics and sport ever since the scandal involving Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein unfolded.
Blatter was president of FIFA from 1998 until 2015, when he was banned for corruption.