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.


Judge in Spain drops extradition bids for 6 Catalan fugitives

Updated 19 July 2018
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Judge in Spain drops extradition bids for 6 Catalan fugitives

  • A Spanish Supreme Court judge on Thursday dropped extradition requests for six politicians wanted on rebellion charges
  • Puigdemont fled to Belgium to avoid arrest after the Spanish government removed him and his Cabinet from office at the end of October

MADRID: A Spanish Supreme Court judge on Thursday dropped extradition requests for six politicians wanted on rebellion charges for their roles in promoting independence for Spain’s Catalonia region, including former regional president Carles Puigdemont.
The decision was a major setback for Spain’s legal efforts to crack down on the wealthy Catalan region’s secessionist movement and keeps alive an issue that last year brought Spain’s worst political crisis in four decades.
Puigdemont fled to Belgium to avoid arrest after the Spanish government removed him and his Cabinet from office at the end of October. He was arrested in Germany in March as he was traveling from Finland to Brussels and is believed to be living in Hamburg.
The Spanish judge withdrew his extradition requests after a German court ruled last week that Puigdemont could not be sent back to Spain for rebellion, only for the lesser charge of embezzlement connected to the alleged misuse of public funds for holding a referendum on secession that a judge had disallowed.
Puigdemont said the decision exposed “huge shortcomings” in the Supreme Court’s legal case against the separatists, including nine who are in Spanish jails awaiting possible trial and whom the separatist movement regards as victims of political persecution.
“Today is a day to demand, with greater fervor than ever, freedom for the political prisoners,” Puigdemont tweeted after Llarena’s decision.
Judge Pablo Llarena was scathing in his assessment of the German court’s decision, describing it as “a lack of commitment” in pursuing the fugitives. Llarena wants Puigdemont and his separatist allies to face charges of rebellion and sedition, as well as misuse of public funds.
If Puigdemont and the others were extradited solely for alleged embezzlement, Spanish prosecutors would be able to put them on trial just on that charge. Rebellion carries a maximum prison sentence of 30 years in Spain, while misuse of public funds is punishable by up to 12 years.
Llarena said in a decision published Thursday that he was revoking the international arrest warrants for the six fugitive former officials, a development the Catalan separatist movement took as a victory against Spain’s central authorities.
The first deputy speaker of the regional parliament in Catalonia, Josep Costa, tweeted “Llarena KO.”
Puigdemont’s lawyer, Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas, declared triumph, writing on Twitter: “It looks like we have a memorable summer.”
The charges are in connection with the Catalan regional government’s unauthorized Oct. 1 referendum on independence from Spain and a subsequent unilateral declaration of independence by the separatist-controlled regional parliament.
The declaration won no international recognition, but the standoff between regional powers in the Catalan capital, Barcelona, and national authorities in Madrid put Spain in the international spotlight.
A German court last week said Spain’s rebellion charge was not recognized in Germany and that related German statutes — such as the law against treason — did not apply because Puigdemont’s actions “did not rise to this kind of violence.”
If the six fugitive politicians return to Spain voluntarily, they would still face rebellion and sedition charges.
The other fugitive politicians apart from Puigdemont are Antoni Comin, Meritxell Serret and Lluis Puig, who also fled to Belgium, Clara Ponsati, who is in Scotland, and Marta Rovira, who is believed to be in Switzerland.