The following article contains allegations of sexual misconduct that some readers may find distressing.
Former FIFA chief Sepp Blatter has categorically denied allegations that he groped two-time Olympic gold medal-winning American goalkeeper Hope Solo.
Solo alleged in an interview with the Portuguese newspaper Expresso that Blatter "grabbed [her] ass" just before they walked on stage at the 2013 Ballon d'Or ceremony to present an award to her fellow Team US member Abby Wambach.
"I was in shock and completely thrown off," Solo later explained toThe Guardian. "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."
A representative for Blatter denied her version of events, saying: "This allegation is ridiculous."
Solo acknowledged that she'd never confronted Blatter because she'd never had the opportunity to see him again after their brief moment on stage together. The Olympian described her alleged experience as emblematic of the sport as a whole.
"While in this instance it was Sepp Blatter, who was the most powerful man in football at the time, sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour are rampant at every level in women's sport and it needs to stop," Solo said.
Blatter was elected five times as the head of FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) between 1998 and 2015, but his resignation two years ago caused huge controversy amid corruption allegations.
Rape Crisis England and Wales works towards the elimination of sexual violence. If you've been affected by the issues raised in this story, you can access more information on their website or by calling the National Rape Crisis Helpline on 0808 802 9999. Rape Crisis Scotland's helpline number is 08088 01 03 02.
Readers in the US are encouraged to contact RAINN, or the National Sexual Assault Hotline on 800-656-4673.
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