Solo accuses former FIFA President Blatter of grabbing her

This file photo taken on March 20, 2015 shows FIFA president Sepp Blatter holding a press conference at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich. (AFP)
Updated 11 November 2017
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Solo accuses former FIFA President Blatter of grabbing her

LISBON: Hope Solo told a Portuguese newspaper that former FIFA President Sepp Blatter sexually assaulted her at the Ballon d’Or awards ceremony in 2013.
In an interview published Friday in the newspaper Expresso, Solo said Blatter grabbed her rear end shortly before the two appeared onstage at the annual soccer awards event.
A representative for Solo confirmed Friday to The Associated Press that the report was accurate and said the former goalkeeper for the US women’s national team had no further comment on the matter.
Blatter could not immediately be reached for comment by the AP, but the embattled former head of soccer’s governing body told the Guardian newspaper: “This allegation is ridiculous.”
Solo has been dogged by a number of off-the-field controversies. Notably, a domestic violence case stemming from a 2014 altercation at a family member’s home in Washington state.
Solo anchored the US team in goal during its 2015 Women’s World Cup championship run, allowing just three goals in seven games with five shutouts during the tournament.
For her career, Solo has made 202 total appearances with the national team, with 153 wins and an international-record 102 shutouts.
Solo’s tenure with the national team ended following last year’s Olympics in Brazil, when the Americans were ousted by Sweden in the quarterfinals. Afterward, Solo called the Swedish team “cowards” for their defensive style of play.
She was suspended from the team shortly thereafter and has not returned.
Blatter was suspended from office and banned from soccer for six years following allegations of a widespread corruption scandal that came to light in 2015. Both US and Swiss officials cooperated in the investigation, which is ongoing, and more than 40 people have been indicted.
Blatter has also had a history of what many consider to be sexist behavior concerning the women’s game.
US forward Alex Morgan has said that Blatter failed to recognize her at the annual award event in 2012, even though she was one of three nominees for the women’s Player of the Year.
Blatter also famously argued in 2004 that players could boost the popularity of the women’s game by wearing tighter shorts.


South Sudan foes in new peace talks to end deadly war

Updated 25 June 2018
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South Sudan foes in new peace talks to end deadly war

  • A first round brokered by Ethiopian premier Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa on Thursday failed to achieve any breakthrough
  • The war has killed tens of thousands of people and driven about four million others from their homes

KHARTOUM: South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and arch-foe Riek Machar were set to hold a new round of peace talks Monday after a first meeting last week faltered.
Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir is hosting in Khartoum the second round of talks between the two bitter rivals, aimed at ending South Sudan’s four-and-a-half year brutal civil war.
A first round brokered by Ethiopian premier Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa on Thursday failed to achieve any breakthrough.
Regional East African leaders have launched new efforts to secure peace in South Sudan where warring factions face a looming deadline to avert UN sanctions.
The war has killed tens of thousands of people and driven about four million others from their homes.
It erupted after Kiir fell out with his then deputy Machar in December 2013, dashing the optimism that accompanied independence of South Sudan just two years earlier from Sudan.
“In this round of talks we are looking for a breakthrough to this thorny issue,” Sudanese Foreign Minister Al-Dierdiry Ahmed told reporters on Sunday.
Kiir and Machar’s meeting in Addis Ababa was their first face-to-face encounter in nearly two years.
Their meeting in Khartoum will be the first since fighting erupted in South Sudan.
It comes after South Sudan’s government declared that it “had enough” of Machar, dashing hopes of any breakthrough at the Addis Ababa talks.
“As the people of South Sudan, not the president alone, but as the people of South Sudan, we are saying enough is enough,” South Sudanese government spokesman Michael Makuei said Friday.
Makuei rejected Machar’s presence in any transitional government but did not rule out the involvement of other rebel figures.
His remarks show the personal enmity between Kiir and Machar, that lies at the heart of the conflict, is as strong as ever.
Before the start of talks in Ethiopia, Machar’s SPLM-IO rebel group had also dismissed the latest peace efforts as “unrealistic.”
South Sudan descended into civil war after Kiir accused Machar of plotting a coup against him, sparking violence between the two factions that was fueled by brooding ethnic tensions.
Since a 2015 peace deal collapsed in July 2016 with Machar fleeing to South Africa, Kiir’s government has gained the upper hand militarily as the opposition has splintered into a myriad of factions.
Initially largely fought out between South Sudan’s two largest ethnic groups — Kiir’s Dinka and Machar’s Nuer — smaller groups have since spawned their own militias raising question marks about the ability of either leader to halt the war.
In May, the UN Security Council gave the two warring sides a month to reach a peace deal or face sanctions.
A landlocked state with a large ethnic mix, South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011 after a long and brutal war.