#SportBits … The Hope Solo Suspension

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Has there ever been a more controversial athlete than women’s national soccer player Hope Solo? Probably…

 

Today I’m focusing on Solo and the controversy surrounding her recent suspension from the women’s national soccer team.

#ICYMI, Hope Solo – the longtime goalkeeper for the #USWNT – was suspended six months by U.S. Soccer for conduct they said was “counter to the organization’s principles.” U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said the comments Solo made after Sweden beat the U.S. at the Rio Olympics were “unacceptable and do not meet the standard of conduct we require from our National Team players.” Solo called the Swedish team a “bunch of cowards.”

Had the 6-month suspension resulted from those remarks only? I’d scream sexism and call B.S. for 1st Amendment reasons, but U.S. Soccer said the suspension resulted from her remarks plus several incidents where Solo showed poor judgment off the field, most notably:

– In 2014, Solo was arrested on two charges of fourth-degree domestic violence assault for allegedly striking her half-sister and her sister’s son. U.S. Soccer came under fire for not suspending Solo after the incident.
– Solo WAS suspended for 30 days in 2015 following a DUI arrest of her husband. When he was pulled over Solo was “acting belligerent” and was almost arrested too.

Solo had this response to the 6-month suspension:

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Although she’s suspended, Solo will still receive a 3-month severance on her #USWNT salary. Her NWSL salary might be in question however, as Solo just announced she is taking an indefinite “personal leave” from her Seattle Reign team.

Solo, who will be 39 years old for the 2019 World Cup isn’t missing much during her suspension. The whole thing feels like a PR move to me and perhaps a way for U.S. Soccer to push out the world’s best female goalie who some think isn’t worth the headache anymore. It will be interesting to see what Coach Jill Ellis does at the end of the six months.

No matter what happens you can’t argue with Solo’s impressive career. She helped the USA win Olympic gold medals in 2008 and 2012 and the 2015 Women’s World Cup. She has recorded 103 shutouts in 202 international matches, the most a goalkeeper has ever played. Her last two seasons – the two most important in the national team’s four-year cycle – have been the two best statistically of her career.

I like Hope Solo’s spirit and passion for the sport. She was one of the first female players to speak out against the wage discrimination in U.S. Soccer. Yes, I think she’s made some mistakes, but for the most part has owned up and apologized for them. I’m not perfect that’s for sure and I have let my competitive nature get the best of me at times, but on the flip side, Solo will be pushing 40 years old at the next World Cup. Maybe it’s the perfect time to start looking for the next greatest goalie? Thoughts?

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