FIFA president Joseph S. Blatter, Alex Morgan and French actor Gerard Depardieu during the red carpet arrivals at the 2012 FIFA Ballon d'Or Gala in Zurich.
Alexander Hassenstein—FIFA via Getty Images
By Sean Gregory
May 22, 2015

Controversial FIFA president Sepp Blatter, whose tenure atop world soccer’s governing body has been pockmarked by scandal, recently called himself “a godfather” of women’s soccer. That’s particularly amusing, considering that a group of top women’s players recently sued FIFA for gender discrimination. And that U.S. star Alex Morgan–who has nearly 1.7 million Twitter followers, tops among women soccer players–says she once went unrecognized by Blatter at an event honoring the world’s top players.

In an interview with TIME, Morgan was asked if she’s had to deal with sexism and misogyny.

“I have experienced sexism multiple times, and I’m sure I will a lot more,” she said. “I feel like I’m fighting for female athletes. At the FIFA World Player of the Year event [in 2012], FIFA executives and FIFA president Sepp Blatter didn’t know who I was. And I was being honored as top three in the world. That was pretty shocking.”

The women sued FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association because the upcoming World Cup, which kicks off June 6, is being contested on artificial turf. Many players detest this surface, saying it leads to more injuries, and disrupts the tempo of the game. No men’s World Cup has even been played on turf. The players dropped the complaint in January. Their attorney said they wanted to shift the focus from the controversy to World Cup preparation.

Morgan’s full interview — 10 Questions With Alex Morgan — appears in the June 1 edition of TIME, on newsstands now. Subscribers can read it here. Subscribe to TIME here.

FIFA’s presidential election is May 29; Blatter is running for a fifth term. Two rivals just pulled out of the contest.

Write to Sean Gregory at sean.gregory@time.com.

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