Hope Solo has played soccer long enough to know the penalties of persistent infringement.
United States women’s national soccer team head coach Jill Ellis on Tuesday expanded on the stated reason for Solo’s six-month suspension from Team USA. Ellis said in a statement on the U.S. Soccer Federation’s website that Solo is paying the price for numerous off-field missteps — not just for calling Sweden “cowards” following Team USA’s elimination from the Rio Olympics.
“Over time there’s been off the field distractions for which the federation has taken action,” Ellis said. “Each time an action has been taken there’s been made clear an expectation that this would be the last time such a step would be necessary. Sadly, how Hope handled her post-Olympic comments forced us to make a significant decision. It’s not simply a decision made about comments, it was based on the sum total of actions that have unfortunately shone a negative light on our program.”
Solo, 34, is the most high-profile and controversial American playing soccer today. She’s leads international soccer in career appearances, wins and shutouts among goalkeepers and back-stopped Team USA to one FIFA Women’s World Cup title and two Olympic gold medals. But her 2014 arrest on domestic violence allegations and involvement in her husband’s DUI arrest in early 2015 are sources of bad publicity for her and U.S. Soccer.
U.S. Soccer in January 2015 suspended Solo for 30 days in the aftermath of her husband’s arrest. Her return to Team USA always was conditional, and her Olympics outburst against Sweden likely violated those confidential terms.
Nevertheless, Solo suggested U.S. Soccer is harshly punishing her for her leading role in the players’ fight for an improved collective bargaining agreement with the federation. She has been one of the most vocal players in fighting for improved pay and playing conditions for professional women’s soccer players.
Ellis merely clarified U.S. Soccer’s stance Tuesday, but the rumbling debate over Solo’s suspension is bound to continue in the coming weeks and months.
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