Hope Solo Accuses Sepp Blatter of Sexual Harrasment

By Andrew Posadas

Former USWNT goalie Hope Solo accused former FIFA President Sepp Blatter of inappropriately touching her back in 2013. (Courtesy of Twitter)

Former U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team goal keeper, Hope Solo, recently joined multiple other athletes who have come forward with claims of sexual harassment. In an interview with Expresso, a newspaper based in Portugal, Solo described an encounter with former FIFA President Sepp Blatter. Specifically, she says that Blatter touched her inappropriately at the Ballon D’or awards ceremony back in Jan. of 2013.

The former Olympian stated that the incident occurred right before they walked on stage. Solo and Blatter presented the award for Women’s World Player of the Year. Solo’s close friend and USWNT teammate Abby Wambach won the award, yet this triumph was the furthest thing from Solo’s mind. She made it quite clear to the Portuguese newspaper with her words: “I had Sepp Blatter grab my ass.” Her reaction was what you expect it to be. In another interview with The Guardian, Solo explains that she was “in shock and completely thrown off,” simply because of the timing of Blatter’s improper conduct. Continuing to explain what she was feeling that night, the 36-year-old said, “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.”

It is impossible to imagine how Solo felt that night. At one of the most prestigious award ceremonies for soccer, she had to experience being groped by the President of FIFA right before taking the stage with him. Then, having to present an award on stage in front of an audience with that same person while pretending like nothing happened as she celebrated with her teammate on such a monumental achievement. It’s amazing that she was able to maintain her composure after experiencing the misconduct.

Solo has not seen Blatter face-to-face since that night in Lisbon at the awards ceremony. She laments not being able to tell him directly to never touch her again in that manner. While she gave no specific reason as to why she chose now to speak of the circumstance with Blatter, one may surmise that seeing women in entertainment and sports coming forward with their experiences of sexual harassment led Solo to provide insight into hers. She made it abundantly clear that sexual harassment is prevalent in every level of women’s soccer and something must be done to remedy its flagrancy.

As for Blatter’s response to the allegation against him, his spokesman told the AP “this allegation is ridiculous.” Blatter has yet to come forward himself to speak in front of the media to defend himself. Blatter is infamously known for being investigated for bribery and corruption in 2015. Ultimately, FIFA suspended him that same year and he is currently serving a six-year ban from all soccer-related activities. Most who know Blatter may not sympathize with him amidst these recent claims against him. This is the same man who, in 2004, came under fire for suggesting that women’s soccer uniforms be more revealing. His reasoning for this: he believed that more revealing attire would bring more attention to women’s soccer.

Recent months have brought more visibility to unspoken stories of sexual misconduct in the entertainment and sports worlds. Women have come forward to expose men like Harvey Weinstein and Bill O’Reilly and bring them into the public eye. Members of the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Team recently admitted experiencing sexual abuse from former doctor Larry Nassar.

It is troubling that this epidemic of sexual harassment has been happening behind closed doors. What’s even more troubling? These types of actions are still occurring, remaining out of sight from the rest of the world. However, bringing them into the light now is a step in the right direction. If I had one word for the women out there hesitant to tell their story, I would use Solo’s first name as reassurance: Hope. There is hope that justice will prevail.