USA women’s team goalkeeper Hope Solo has accused Fifa president Sepp Blatter of sexually assaulting her at an awards ceremony in January 2013.
In an interview with the Portuguese newspaper Expresso, being published on Saturday, Solo, 36, claimed she “had Sepp Blatter grab my ass” at the glittering presentation of Fifa’s annual football awards for achievement during 2012.
Solo presented the Fifa women’s world player of the year award on stage alongside Blatter, to her colleague on the USA team that had won the gold medal at the London Olympics.
Blatter, contacted via his spokesman, responded to Solo’s recollection by denying that the incident took place. “This allegation is ridiculous,” he said.
In 2016, Blatter had lost his appeal against a six-year ban for ethics violations, imposed amid the biggest corruption scandal to shake the world football body, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) said on Monday.
CAS ruled that Blatter had authorised payments to Michel Platini, then the European football boss, worth over $2 million that amounted to “undue gifts” and therefore violated FIFA’s code of ethics. Blatter, who led FIFA for 17 years, said that he was “disappointed but not shattered”.
He resigned in June last year after several dozen football officials, including FIFA executive committee members and former members, had been indicted in the United States on graft charges, along with two sports marketing firms.
The 80-year-old Swiss was not among those indicted, but became embroiled in scandal when he was banned from all football-related activity the following December by FIFA’s Ethics Committee along with Platini, then president of the European soccer body UEFA.
The men were banned, initially for eight years, over a payment of 2 million Swiss francs ($1.98 million) that FIFA made to Platini in 2011, with Blatter’s approval, for work done a decade earlier. The bans were reduced to six years by FIFA’s appeals committee in February. Both men denied wrongdoing and Blatter said the payment related to a verbal agreement.
CAS said in a statement that its three-man panel had determined that Blatter “breached the FIFA code of ethics since the payment amounted to an undue gift as it had no contractual basis”.
“The Panel further found that Mr Blatter unlawfully awarded contributions to Platini under the FIFA Executive Committee retirement scheme which also amounted to an undue gift.”