Yesterday, the U.S Soccer Federation (USSF) announced that they are suspending Hope Solo for six months and terminating her national team contract due to the comments she made following the match against Sweden at the Olympics.
Hope Solo called the Swedish team a “bunch of cowards” and said that “the best team did not win today.” Many people in U.S Soccer and around the world said that Hope Solo’s comments constituted unsportsmanlike conduct. Criticism came from people as close as fellow U.S Women’s National Team and Seattle Reign player Megan Rapinoe, who said she was “really disappointed” in Solo’s comments.
The U.S Soccer Federation, in a statement released regarding the suspension, had strong words about Solo’s comments. “The comments by Hope Solo after the match against Sweden during the 2016 Olympics were unacceptable and do not meet the standard of conduct we require from our National Team players,” U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said. “Beyond the athletic arena, and beyond the results, the Olympics celebrate and represent the ideals of fair play and respect. We expect all of our representatives to honor those principles, with no exceptions.”
The USSF statement also made it clear that this suspension and contract termination were not just for the comments against Sweden, but were a result of an accumulation of problems over the years. Solo has had many issues off the field, including comments made against former head coach Greg Ryan for benching her in the World Cup Semi-Finals in 2007. She also was arrested for domestic violence against her half-sister and nephew last year, and her husband was pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence while driving a U.S Soccer van. Solo was a passenger.
Solo said that she was “saddened” by the USSF decision. “I could not be the player I am without being the person I am, even when I haven’t made the best choices or said the right things,” Solo said. “My entire career, I have only wanted the best for this team, for the players and the women’s game and I will continue to pursue these causes with the same unrelenting passion with which I play the game.”
The suspension is one thing, but the termination of her contract means that Solo will have to fight to regain her spot on the international roster. The team will probably only play a handful of friendlies in the next six months, but the message from USSF is clear.
Orlando Pride Forward Alex Morgan expressed her feelings on Solo’s suspension before training on Thursday. “I heard about it just as everyone else did on social media. The players don’t control any of the consequences that are enforced by U.S Soccer so it’s a bummer that it happened to one of my teammates but at the same time I don’t agree with the things that she said in the Olympics, so you kind of have to leave the punishment, if there is any, up to the federation and they decided to take action.”
With Solo out of the picture, at least temporarily, Orlando Pride Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris may have a chance to prove herself in the upcoming friendlies. The team will face Thailand on Sept. 15th in Columbus and the Netherlands on Sept. 18th in Atlanta. And for the first time in a long time, someone new will be between those goal posts.