Former U.S. international goalkeeper, Hope Solo, has accused ex-FIFA president Sepp Blatter of sexual assault.
The World Cup winner, 36, says the incident happened at the 2013 Ballon d’Or award before she went on stage to present an award.
In an interview with the Portuguese outlet published on Saturday, Solo claimed Blatter “grabbed my ass” at FIFA’s Ballon d’Or awards ceremony in January 2013, where Solo presented the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year award on stage alongside Blatter.
Blatter, 81, denied the incident took place. His spokesman told BBC Sport: “This allegation is ridiculous.”
Solo, when asked why she has not spoken out on the incident before, added: “I was nervous for the presentation. It was the Ballon d’Or I was presenting.
“After that, I didn’t see him and that was kind of bad. I didn’t get to tell him directly ‘don’t ever touch me’. That’s the way I’ve always handled things – directly.”
Over the past months, celebrities have been speaking out about sexual harassment by people in power, sparked by multiple women speaking out against the Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.
Solo, a two-time Olympic gold medallist says the issue is “rampant” in women’s football.
Blatter, 81, was elected FIFA’s president five times between 1998 and 2015, but he lost his position due to ethical breaches.
Solo joined the U.S. women’s national team in 2000, but has not played for the nation since the 2016 Olympics in Rio. The 36-year-old was suspended for six months by the U.S. Soccer for calling Swedish players a “bunch of cowards” and has not returned to the team since.