Soccer star Hope Solo told a Portuguese newspaper that she was sexually assaulted by former FIFA president Sepp Blatter at the soccer organization’s Ballon d’Or awards ceremony in January 2013, accusing Blatter of improperly touching her rear end.
Solo told Expresso in an upcoming interview that she “had Sepp Blatter grab my ass” at FIFA’s annual award ceremony, which saw Solo present the FIFA women’s world player of the year alongside Blatter, The Guardian reported.
“I had Sepp Blatter grab my ass,” Solo said, claiming that such behavior is “rampant” in the sports world. “It was at the Ballon d’Or, right before I went on stage. [Sexual harassment] has been normalized.”
Footage from the event indeed shows Solo coming onto the stage with Blatter behind her in order to present the prestigious award to striker Abby Wambach, who won the gold medal at the London Olympics alongside Solo.
In a separate interview with The Guardian, Solo claimed that Blatter’s blatant grab shook her so much that she was nearly unable to present the award.
“I was in shock and completely thrown off,” she said. “I had to quickly pull myself together to present my teammate with the biggest award of her career and celebrate with her in that moment, so I completely shifted my focus to Abby.”
Last month, Solo took to Instagram to express solidarity for the women in Hollywood who were subjected to sexual abuse at the hands of Harvey Weinstein and other powerful men. She drew comparisons between their struggle and the problems that women in sports face.
“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,” she wrote.
“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!” Solo concluded, adding the #MeToo hashtag.