Hope Solo is no stranger to critics and media attention. However, Wednesday night she is getting some media attention she may not be all too thrilled about.
U.S. Soccer has suspended the superstar goaltender for six months for what it called “conduct that is counter to the organization’s principles.” Solo’s contract with the women’s national league was also terminated Wednesday by the federation.
With that being said, Solo may have played her last game for the United States at the ripe age of 35.
The suspension comes after remarks Solo made after the United States was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the Rio Olympics by Sweden. This was the Americans first defeat since women’s soccer was introduced to the Olympics in 1996. Solo, one of the most decorated players in U.S. soccer history, responded to the defeat by criticizing Sweden’s tactics and calling them “a bunch of cowards” for not going toe to toe with the talented Americans.
The comments were discouraged and vastly criticized by teammate Megan Rapinoe, who told NBC she was “really disappointed” by the remarks, reported the New York Times. Solo was arrested in 2014 for assaulting two family members and served a 30-day ban after her husband was arrested on drunken-driving charges while he and Solo were borrowing a team van.
The suspension may not have been much of a slap on the back of her hand, especially with there only being two scheduled matches for the rest of the year and she would likely only miss a couple of friendlies in the first two months of 2017. The termination of her contract has a much greater impact on how U.S. Soccer is handling the situation.
With Solo’s history of controversial and inflammatory statements over the years, the termination shows she may have to earn her way back into the organization. Even the statement released by the United States Soccer Federation implies the suspension was not only triggered by the most recent comments made by Solo, but perhaps her whole history of embarrassing incidents:
The suspension for Solo, who was previously suspended for 30 days early in 2015 for her conduct, is effective immediately.
“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,” said U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati. “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.
“Taking into consideration the past incidents involving Hope, as well as the private conversations we’ve had requiring her to conduct herself in a manner befitting a U.S. National Team member, U.S. Soccer determined this is the appropriate disciplinary action.”
As a result of the suspension, Solo would not be eligible for selection to the U.S. Women’s National Team until February of 2017.
Solo’s suspension and contract termination will not affect her playing with the Seattle Reign of the NWSL, it applies only to the national team. She is allowed to continue playing for the Reign as an allocated player who does not count against the salary cap for the rest of the season.
Yet with her form declining and players such as, Alyssa Naeher and Ashlyn Harris, stepping up and the team regrouping after a two-year Women’s World Cup and Olympic cycle, the termination of contract might mean the federation is moving on.
Solo is a two-time gold medalist and was a starter when the American’s won the 2015 Women’s World Cup. Her appearance against Sweden at the Olympics marked her 202nd game with the U.S. She posted shutouts in 102 of those games.
According to the New York Times, Richard Nichols, the general counsel for the women’s national team’s players association, called the punishment, “excessive,” unprecedented,” and “disproportionate.” The players association is expected to file an appeal.
Portions of the statement released by U.S. Soccer was reported from SB Nation.