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Lisbon, Nov 11 (IANS) Former US women’s team goalkeeper Hope Solo has rocked the football world with allegations of sexual harassment against former FIFA President Sepp Blatter.
In an interview to Portuguese publication Expreso, Hope alleged that Blatter had touched her inappropriately during the Ballon d’Or awards ceremony in January 2013.
According to Solo, the incident happened just before she went on stage along with Blatter to present the FIFA’s women’s Player Of The Year award to Abby Wambach — her colleague in the American squad which had won the gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics.
“I had Sepp Blatter grab my ass,” Solo said in the interview.
“OK. I had Sepp Blatter grab my ass. Can I talk about that? It was at the Ballon D’or one year, right before I went on stage… It’s been normalised,” she added.
Alleging that sexual harassment is rampant in the world of sports, Solo urged female athletes to speak up about their experiences.
“This is what I can say: I’m actually very disappointed with the women who haven’t spoken about it in the sports world. Yes, everybody has their individual decisions, and it is uncomfortable, but I wish more women, especially in football, would speak against it, about their experiences, because some of those people still work there and some of the players still act in these behaviours,” she said.
“I had some bad experiences with players who are still on the team. I think it is important to acknowledge that this doesn’t just happen with the powerful white men. It can happen all across the board, it can happen between women, it can happen anywhere. We are focused on the powerful white men because I think that’s probably more prevalent, but It can happen anywhere. I’ve seen that” she added.
“Yes, I’ve seen it throughout my entire career. And I wish more female athletes would speak out about their own experiences. It’s rampant, it’s not just in Hollywood, it’s probably all over the place. I’ve seen it in sports. For years, in the past, female players date and end up marrying their college coaches, which obviously a coach should not be doing, especially with a young player. I’ve seen it not just with coaches, I’ve seen it with trainers, doctors, and our press officers… I’ve seen it amongst players in the locker room. I don’t know why more players don’t speak out against it.”
Blatter has, however, denied that the incident ever took place.
“This allegation is ridiculous,” a spokesman for the former FIFA chief was quoted as saying by the Guardian.