The former Fifa president Sepp Blatter has been accused by Hope Solo, the United States of America women's football team goalkeeper, of having sexually assaulted her at Fifa's Ballon d'Or awards ceremony in January 2013.
In 2012, United States forward Alex Morgan said that Blatter failed to recognize her during that year's Ballon d'Or, even though she was one of three nominees for the women's Player of the Year.
Solo continued: "I had Sepp Blatter grab my ass".
The 81-year-old Blatter served as Federation Internationale de Football Association president for almost 17 years before being kicked out of office and suspended amid accusations of widespread corruption. In the case of Sepp Blatter, I got on the stage, I was nervous, I presented the Ballon d'or. "It was at the Ballon d'Or, right before I went on stage... it [sexual harassment] has been normalised".
Solo expanded to the Guardian: "While in this instance it was Sepp Blatter, who was the most powerful man in football at the time, sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior are rampant at every level in women's sport and it needs to stop".
Asked by Expresso whether, in light of recent revelations in the American entertainment industry, sexual harassment was an issue in women's football, Solo replied: "Of course it is". "I was in shock, completely shaken", she entrusted. She said she hasn't seen him since.
Blatter dismissed Solo's claims, telling the Guardian newspaper that the allegation "is ridiculous". "I had to submit to my co-fellow [Abby Wambach, victor of the Golden Ball 2013, editor's note] the biggest prize of his career, and celebrate with it this time, so I dedicated all my attention", she also added. On his account Instagram, she wrote, with the hashtag #MoiAussi: "the past few days, I think back to all those uncomfortable situations that I and my co-équipières have lived for years with coaches, doctors, personal club..." "Silence will not change the world!"
For her career, Solo has made 202 total appearances with the national team, with 153 wins and an international-record 102 shutouts.
Blatter also famously argued in 2004 that players could boost the popularity of the women's game by wearing tighter shorts.
"Let the women play in more feminine clothes like they do in volleyball", Blatter said. "I don't know why more players don't speak out".