Blatter dismisses Hope Solo’s accusations as, ‘ridiculous’
Mumbai: Former FIFA President Sepp Blatter on Saturday claimed the USA women footballer Hope Solo’s allegations that the former FIFA chief sexually harassed her at an awards ceremony, was ‘absurd and ridiculous.’
Interestingly, Solo in an interaction with Portugese newspaper Expresso had accused Blatter of sexually harassing her at the Fifa Ballon d’Or awards ceremony in January 2013.
The 36-year-old goalkeeper who won the World Cup with USA in 2015 and is also a two time Olympics gold medalist (2008 and 2012) claimed that the former FIFA Chief “had grab my ass” before she went to present the Fifa women’s world player of the year award on stage alongside Blatter.
The 2015 Golden Glove winner also said that she was in shock and found it difficult to focus on the awards ceremony. “I was in shock and completely thrown off. I had to quickly pull myself together to present my team-mate with the biggest award of her career and celebrate with her in that moment,” Solo said on the sidelines of the Web Submit held in Lisbon.
Taking of sexual harassment in general, Solo who termed it as ‘rampant’ also mentioned that women should speak up about these incidents, instead of sitting quiet. “Things needs to change. Silence will not change the world!” She said.
“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,” she said. “I’ve seen it not just with coaches. I’ve seen it with trainers, doctors and our press officers … I’ve seen it amongst players in the locker room. It’s rampant,” she added. I’m actually very disappointed with the women who haven’t spoken about it in the sports world … I wish more women, especially in football, would speak against it, about the experiences, because some of those people still work [in football].”
Asked why she had not brought the incident to light before, Solo observed that, “I was nervous for the presentation. It was the Ballon d’Or, I was presenting. Before adding, “After that I didn’t see him and that was kind of bad. I didn’t get to tell him directly ‘don’t ever touch me’. That’s the way I’ve always handled things – directly.”
However, this is something not new with Blatter, who had often been accused of sexiest remarks, during his tenure from 1998 to 2015, with his comment, ‘female players should wear tighter shorts’ in 2004, the most inappropriate of them all.
But according to Solo, sexual harassment in sports must be dealt with. “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,” she said as quoted by The Guardian.