Sepp Blatter accused of Sexual Assault

Hope Solo says that Sepp Blatter grabbed her'a** just before they went on stage to award Solo's Team USA colleague with the prestigious Ballon d'Or in 2013

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 columns of the Portuguese newspaper, the footballer-american, also affirms that sexual harassment is "rife" in the world of sport and regrets that such behavior is "become the norm".

Hope Solo, the USA women's soccer (football) team's standout goalkeeper, says that former FIFA president Sepp Blatter sexually assaulted her in 2013 at an awards event.

She revealed: "I had Sepp Blatter grab my ass [turns towards her press assistant, Melinda Travis]".

Solo, 36, presented on the stage to present Federation Internationale de Football Association women's world player of the year alongside Blatter, to her colleague and striker Abby Wambach on the United States of America team that had won the gold medal at the London Olympics.

The 36-year-old expanded on the alleged incident when she told The Guardian: "I was in shock and completely thrown off. It was at the Ballon d'Or, right before I went on stage... it [sexual harassment] has been normalised".

Solo went on to add that sexual harassment was rife in all walks of life - claims she said she had witnessed with her own eyes - and stated that more needed to come forward with their stories to combat the "rampant" issue. "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". 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..." I've seen it amongst players in the locker room.

When asked why she had never brought it up previously, Solo admitted it is because she usually like to take it up with the person directly, rather than flush it out to the press. "That's the way I've always handled things - directly". In other cases, for instance, I've told my teammates: "Don't ever f*****g touch me! Don't do it". It has been in the showers, it's been in the locker room. "I don't know why more players don't speak out".

On the official Fifa film of the event, which was hosted by the Dutch football legend Ruud Gullit and the broadcaster Kay Murray, Solo was shown coming on to the stage with Blatter from behind a curtain at the back of the stage, to present the award to Wambach. It was the Ballon d'Or I was presenting.

"I have seen this all of my career and I would like to see more athletes speak about their experiences", said Solo. He served as the organization's president from 1998 until the ban. In 2013, he called a female candidate for Fifa's executive committee "good, and good looking".

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