US football star Hope Solo has accused former FIFA president Sepp Blatter of sexual assault.
The 36-year-old goalkeeper said the 81-year-old Blatter grabbed her backside at the 2013 Ballon d’Or ceremony.
“Sepp Blatter grabbed my ass, it was a few years ago at the Ballon d’Or ceremony just before I got on stage,” she told the Portuguese newspaper Expresso on the sidelines of the Web Summit in Lisbon.
A spokesman for the disgraced former FIFA chief, who was president of world football’s governing body from 1998 to 2015 until being banned for corruption, said the claim was “ridiculous”.
Blatter was banned from football for six years when the corruption scandal broke.
The US-Swiss investigation is still ongoing, with more than 40 people charged.
When it comes to the women’s game, Blatter has a history of what many see as sexist behaviour.
Solo’s US teammate Alex Morgan said he failed to recognise her at the 2012 Ballon d’Or ceremony, despite the striker being one of the nominees for the women’s Player of the Year.
In 2004, Blatter said female players could boost the popularity of the sport by playing in tighter shorts.
Solo, a World Cup winner and two-time Olympic champion, said sexual harassment from male officials was a common problem in the women’s game.
“I have seen this all of my career and I would like to see more athletes speak about their experiences,” she said.
“It’s out of control, not just in Hollywood but everywhere,” Solo added, referencing the sexual assault allegations that have emerged from the worlds of entertainment, politics and sport since the scandal surrounding movie mogul Harvey Weinstein erupted.