Hope Solo, the former goalie of the US women's national soccer team, said the head of FIFA groped her in 2013 as they were about to present an award together.
Solo was speaking to Portuguese magazine Expresso about sexual harassment in women's sports and its prevalence. She then revealed that Sepp Blatter, then the president of world soccer's governing body, groped her in 2013 as they were about to present the women's player of the year award at the Ballon d'Or gala.
"I had Sepp Blatter grab my ass," she said.
Solo added that she wanted to confront him at the time, but she didn't see him again after presenting the award. Blatter was then one of soccer's most powerful figures; he has since been banned from FIFA amid a widespread corruption scandal.
"After that I did not see him and that was kind of bad," she told the magazine. "I did not get to tell him directly 'Do not ever touch me!' That's the way I've always handled things. Directly."
Solo added she hopes other women athletes will speak up about their experiences. She said she's seen inappropriate behavior from coaches, doctors, press officers — and between players.
"It can happen across the board, it can happen between women, it can happen anywhere," she said.
In a statement to the Guardian, a spokesman for Blatter said the incident never took place.
“This allegation is ridiculous,” he said.
Claudia Koerner is a national reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
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