Alan Hubbard ©insidethegames

We wondered how long it would be before dear old Sepp Blatter resurfaced to become involved in yet another imbroglio, this time joining the long list of those in positions of power or prominence who are alleged to have been in the past a bit too touchy-feely when it comes to the opposite sex.

The former FIFA President has been accused by Hope Solo, the United States women's football team goalkeeper, of having "sexually assaulted" her at the Ballon d’Or Awards in January 2013.

In an interview with the Portuguese newspaper Expresso last weekend, Solo, 36, claimed she "had Sepp Blatter grab my ass" at the glittering presentation.

Solo presented the FIFA women's world player of the year award on stage alongside Blatter to her colleague on the US team that had won the gold medal at the London 2012 Olympics, striker Abby Wambach.

Blatter, contacted via his spokesman, responded to Solo's recollection by denying that the incident took place. "This allegation is ridiculous," he apparently snorted.

He was certainly an old rogue, but whether he was an old roue remains open to question.

Sepp Blatter has been accused of sexual harassment by Hope Solo, an allegation he denies ©Getty Images
Sepp Blatter has been accused of sexual harassment by Hope Solo, an allegation he denies ©Getty Images

I first met him back in the early 1980s in a Singapore hotel room when he was serving the late FIFA President João Havelange as the organisation's general secretary.

During my interview with Havelange - later forced to resign from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) following accusations of receiving "commission" for broadcasting rights - we were constantly interrupted by waiters and couriers bearing gifts from local manufacturers, sponsors and businesses.

Boxes of shirts, crates of drinks, hi-fi equipment and toiletries were stacked high against the walls, from floor to ceiling. "I think we'll need to hire another plane to get all these home," Blatter smirked knowingly at Havelange.

Just over a decade later we met again in his opulent Zurich emporium after he became FIFA President. I had accompanied the then British Sports Minister Tony Banks, who was there to discuss a potential England World Cup bid. For an hour or so Blatter provided a masterclass in glib evasion and self-aggrandisement. 

"Slippery sod, ain't he," sniffed Banks, never one to mince his words, as we left.

Blatter, 81, won five elections as President of FIFA from 1998 until 2015, until he was banned for eight years (reduced on apppeal to six) by the organisation for ethics breaches relating to a payment made to the then UEFA President Michel Platini in 2011.

Over his years he faced criticism for a series of sexist remarks, including a suggestion in 2004 that female players could wear "tighter shorts" like "they do in volleyball" to make 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 later, 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."

I suppose what all this goes to demonstrate is that sport has now become as much open to sexual sleaze and other forms of corruption as the long-established nudge, nudge, wink, wink worlds of showbiz and politics.

Indeed, is there a major international sporting body with an acronym that also doesn't actually spell sleaze?

Take the IOC.

At a time when President Thomas Bach is struggling to sort the truly nasty mess over Russia's systematic doping and whether or not the proven cheats should be allowed to compete in the next Winter Games, former Olympic sprinter Frankie Fredericks was being arraigned for a judge in Paris on corruption charges. A few days later another IOC member, Alex Gilady, was accused by two fellow Israelis of sexual harassment.

And let us not forget that three other IOC members of recent vintage - Pat Hickey, Lamine Diack and Carlos Nuzman - all await trial on charges for corruption related to Olympic issues.

Hope Solo made allegations against Sepp Blatter involving the Ballon d'Or Awards ©Getty Images
Hope Solo made allegations against Sepp Blatter involving the Ballon d'Or Awards ©Getty Images

And on the question of historical (or some might say hysterical accusations of abuse) several sports, among them football, swimming and gymnastics, are now under investigation over alleged improper relationships between competitors and coaches.

However, just for devilment and to lighten the load, may I offer an example much closer to home, and leave you with something to ponder.

Some years ago I was sports editor of The Observer and had hair and much less of a midriff bulge. I was having a lunchtime drink in the pub next to the office when a senior female journalist of a certain vintage from our sister newspaper -The Guardian - the most po-faced and politically correct of all publications - tottered up to the bar, much the worse for a few bevies, grabbed my crotch and whispered in my ear "what ya got down there, sunshine? Fancy a s***?"

I recall I politely demurred and as they used to say in that now sadly defunct organ The News of the World, made an excuse and left.

I recount this tale only because in the current climate I have often wondered what would have been the response had I reported the incident to her immediate boss or the local nick.

Sweet FA I suspect.

Yet had something similar occurred with me as the instigator and the lady in question the subject of such blatant sexual harassment, no doubt I would be sharing a cell with Rolf Harris.

Funny old game, sleaze.