Hope Solo accuses Sepp Blatter of sexual assault at awards ceremony

The USA goalkeeper Hope Solo has accused Sepp Blatter of sexually assaulting her moments before they went on stage together at the Ballon dOr awards ceremony in 2013

The former Fifa president Sepp Blatter has been accused by Hope Solo, the USA women’s football team goalkeeper, of having sexually assaulted her at Fifa’s Ballon d’Or 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 awardings for achievement during 2012. Solo presented the Fifa women’s world player of the year awarding on stage alongside Blatter, to her colleague on the USA team that had won the gold medal at the London Olympics, the striker Abby Wambach.

Blatter, contacted via his spokesman, responded to Solo’s recollection by denying that the incident took place.” Such allegations is ridiculous ,” he said.

On the official Fifa film of the event, which was hosted by the Dutch football legend Ruud Gullit and the broadcaster Kay Murray, Solo was shown coming on to the stage with Blatter from behind a curtain at the back of the stage, to present the awarding to Wambach. Talking to Expresso about sexual harassment in general, which Solo says is “rampant” in athletic, she claimed Blatter grabbed her behind seconds before they both went on stage:” I had Sepp Blatter grab my ass ,” she said.” It was at the Ballon d’Or, right before I went on stage.[ Sex harassment] has been normalised .”

Expanding on the alleged incident on Friday, Solo told the Guardianthat she had to compose herself immediately afterwards to concentrate on attaining her speech and giving the presentation to Wambach.” I was in shock and completely thrown off ,” Solo said.” I had to quickly pull myself together to present my team-mate with the biggest awarding of her career and celebrate with her in that moment, so I completely changed my focus to Abby .”

Solo, the most capped goalkeeper in US football history with 202 appearances, including in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic- and 2015 World Cup-winning teams, spoke out last month about sexual harassment in athletic, following the revelations about the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. In an Instagram post Solo congratulated the women who had spoken out and wrote with the #MeToo hashtag:” For the past few days, I have been thinking about all the uncomfortable situations myself and/ or my team-mates have experienced throughout the years with trainers, doctors, coaches, executives and even team-mates. From inappropriate commentaries, unwanted advances and grabs of the ass to coach-and-fours and[ general managers] and even press officers speaking about players” tits’ and physical appearance, sexual harassment is rampant in the sports world. I always felt I’d’ handled it’ and stood up for myself in those situations, but there were never any consequences for the perpetrators. That needs to change. Silence will not change the world !”

Solo expanded on those statements to Expresso, when she appeared at the Web Summit event in Lisbon, to speak on a platform for equal pay and women’s equality.” For years, in the past, female players date and end up marriage their college coach-and-fours, which obviously a coach should not be doing, especially with a young player ,” she said.” I’ve seen it not just with coach-and-fours. I’ve seen it with trainers, doctors and our press officers … I’ve seen it amongst players in the locker room. It’s rampant.

” I’m actually very disappointed with the women who haven’t spoken about it in the sports world … I wish more women, particularly in football, would speak against it, about the experiences, because some of those people still work[ in football ].”

Asked why she had not spoken out about the Blatter incident before, Solo said she always tries to confront immediately people, including team-mates, when it happens. With Blatter, she said as it happened seconds before she went on stage, she was unable to confront him, did not have an opportunity to do so when they left the stage and has never seen him since.

Blatter, 81, won five elections as president of Fifa from 1998 until 2015, until he was banned by the organisation for ethics breaches relating to a 2m CHF payment made to the then Uefa president Michel Platini in 2011. Over his years he faced criticism for a series of sexist statements, including a suggestion in 2004 that female players could wear” tighter shorts” like” they do in volleyball” to stimulate the game more appealing to a male audience. In 2013, he called a female candidate for Fifa’s executive committee ” good, and good looking “. Days afterward, when congratulating the new female members of the executive committee, he said:” Are there ladies in the room? Say something! You are always speaking at home , now you can speak here .”

Solo has played for the US national squad since 2000, although she has not seemed since last year’s Olympics in Rio because of a shoulder injury and a six-month suspension imposed by the US soccer federation. She was banned after accusing the Swedish team of a defensive performance and referring to them as” a bunch of cowards” when they are beat USA in the quarter-finals, a comment she afterwards retracted and apologised for.

She told the Guardian she believes sexual harassment in athletic must be dealt with:” While in this instance it was Sepp Blatter, who was the most powerful human in football at the time, sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviours are rampant at every level in women’s athletic and it needs to stop .”

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FIFA and EA announce the first eWorld Cup

Esports are presenting no sign of slowing down, as the segment continues to grow.

Today, EA and FIFA announced their intentions to replicate one of the world’s greatest athletic events in the world of gaming, introducing FIFA eWorld Cup 2018.

From November 2017 to July 2018, there will be a series of qualifying tournaments where players can compete for their place in the tournament. There also will be official league-qualifying tournaments for existing teams and pro players to win their spot.

By the end of the qualifying season, EA and FIFA will narrow down the top 128 players of video games( half for PS4 and half for Xbox One) to head to the FIFA 18 Global Series Playoffs. From there, it’s on to the ultimate stop on the Global Series Tour, the FIFA eWorld Cup Grand Final.

Todd Sitrin, SVP and GM of the Competitive Gaming Division at EA, had this to say 😛 TAGEND

Last year was a pivotal achievement for competitive FIFA, engaging millions of competitors and spectators through world football and global competitor. In partnership with FIFA, we’re accelerating the growth of competitive gaming through the EA SPORTS FIFA 18 Global Series on The Road to the FIFA eWorld Cup 2018, creating more competition, attracting more challengers and connecting with more fans than ever before.

If you want to learn more about how to qualify, you can hit up the FIFA Ultimate Team website right here.

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Outer space: the Russia World Cup stadium with a novel seating extension

Architects working on the Ekaterinburg Arena have come up with a unique answer to the tricky question of how to fulfill World Cup minimum capacity of 35,000 spectators

World Cup stadia come in all shapes and sizes but next year’s tournament in Russia will violate new ground with fans at one venue seated outside.

Architects working on the Ekaterinburg Arena have come up with a unique answer to the tricky topic: how do you seat the Fifa-sanctioned minimum of 35,000 spectators when the stadium has a capability of many thousands less? Simply build a stand outside.

FIFA World Cup (@ FIFAWorldCup)

The Ekaterinburg Arena is beginning to look

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Morocco to challenge North American joint bid to host 2026 World Cup

Morocco announced a last-minute challenge to the joint proposal of the United States, Mexico and Canada for the right to host the 2026 World Cup

Morocco has announced it will bid to host the 2026 World Cup, positioning itself as a last-minute challenger to the joint bid from the United States, Mexico and Canada.

The Moroccan football federation unveiled the bid on Friday with a brief two-sentence statement, corroborating it had submitted a formal application to the relevant Fifa committees. The announcement came hours before Fifas deadline for countries to confirm their intention to bid, and denies the North American bid an unopposed victory at the eleventh hour.

The US-Mexico-Canada bid, first reported by the Guardian and formally announced at an April news conference in New York City, remains the overwhelming favorite to win hosting rights for the 2026 tournament. A successful joint bid would mark the first time the Football world cup has been hosted by multiple countries since the 2002 tournament in South Korea and Japan.

Under the proposal, the US will host 60 games including every match from the quarter-finals onwards with Mexico and Canada dividing the remaining 20 fixtures equally. The United States previously hosted the Football world cup in 1994, and that 24 -team, 52 -match tournament still holds the attendance record( with nearly 3.6 million spectators ), despite a subsequent expansion of the format to 32 squads and 64 matches.

Mexico hosted the tournament in 1970 and 1986, while Canada hosted the womens World Cup in 2015.

In May, Fifa announced a four-stage bidding process for the 2026 tournament with a final decision in May 2020. It later confirmed that the previous two World Cup hosts, Europe and Asia, will not be eligible to host the tournament.

That left North Americas Concacaf( which last hosted in 1994 ), Africas CAF( which last hosted in 2010 ), South Americas Conmebol( Brazil in 2014) and Oceanias OFC( never ).

The CAF offered its backing to the Moroccan bid last month, and Morocco could spring an upset if it can broker an adequate voting confederation. Europe has 55 members in the Congress, Africa 54, Asia 46, Concacaf 35, Oceania 11 and South America 10.

Fifa will now inspect the two finalists bids and report to the governing bodys member associations by March. The final referendum will take place at the Fifa congress in June.

Weve always been prepared for the fact that other countries could also decide to bid for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, US Soccer president Sunil Gulati said in a statement on Friday. Competition is good, and overall it shows the value and importance of the World Cup.

Over the next eight months weve got a lot of work to do.

The North American bid is bolstered by a fleet of gleaming new NFL stadia built over the past two decades that are suitable for international matches, which puts it in step with the cost-conscious, infrastructure-ready leanings of the day.

But Morocco, which would become only the second African nation to host a World Cup after South Africa in 2010, has six soccer stadiums with 45,000 seats or more already in use, meaning it would not require as much new construction as previous host nations.

The North African country with long coastlines along the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea previously bid for the Football world cup in 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2010.

Two years ago, the Daily Telegraph reported that Morocco had, in fact, won the vote to host the 2010 competitor even though Fifa awarded the tournament to South Africa. Morocco also came close in its campaign for the 1998 tournament, losing to France in the final round by a margin of 12 to seven.

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Chuck Blazer, former Fifa official turned whistleblower, dies aged 72

American former executive committee member was a central figure in the Fifa corruption scandal

Chuck Blazer, the controversial and flamboyant American former Fifa official, has died, according to his lawyers.

The cause of his death, at persons under the age of 72, is not yet clear, but in 2013 he told national courts he had rectal cancer, diabetes and coronary artery disease.

The former Fifa executive committee member, who was also the general secretary of Concacaf, was a central figure in the Fifa corruption scandal.

In that 2013 tribunal appearance, he admitted to accepting bribes over the 1998 and 2010 World Cup bids and, when that datum was made public two years later, was handed a lifetime banning from all football-related activities by Fifa.

He turned whistleblower to aid the US government in its investigations into corruption within footballs world governing body and played a crucial role in the downfall of its long-time president, Sepp Blatter, and in prompting promises of reform within the organisation.

In a statement, his lawyers Eric Corngold and Mary Mulligan said Blazer had been instrumental in the development of football in the region, and his misconduct should not obscure Chucks positive impact on international football.

The statement continued: Chuck felt profound sorrow and sadnes for his action. He expressed sincere compunction towards his former constituents and colleagues, and to all of the soccer players disappointed by his conduct.

Blazer was also known for his eccentricity. A resident of New York, he rented an apartment in Trump Tower along with a separate unit just for his cats, according to reports. He was often assured around the city with his pet macaw on his shoulder.

More to follow.

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