Hope Solo shows us that the dark side never wins
By Davie Wong, Sports Editor
The Rio Olympics were a bag of mixed nuts. For some, it was a dream come true. For others, it was heartbreaking. For some, it destroyed their career, and I’m not just talking about the Brazilian president.
The United States Women’s National Soccer Team came into the Olympics clear favourites to win gold. The back-to-back-to-back defending champions were out for their fourth gold in a row, and they dominated their way into the Olympics, nearly running over their group stage opponents. However, it was the end of the group stage that really caused this team to fall.
A 2-2 tie to Colombia loomed in the back of the players’ minds at they went into their quarter finals bout against a strong-looking Swedish squad. The Swedes’ strong tactical play and defensive strategy brought the game all the way to penalties, and Sweden eventually won. The loss, which knocked the Americans out of the tournament, ended their reign over women’s soccer at the Olympics. Although most of the players took the loss on the chin and moved on, in the heat of the moment, US goalkeeper Hope Solo, who allowed 4 of 5 penalty shots, took her time on camera to call the Swedish team “a bunch of cowards.” Her unprofessional comments were not supported by her teammates and rebuked by the Swedish head coach, who reiterated the fact that Solo’s tournament was over, and Sweden’s tournament was going to continue.
Unsurprisingly, Solo’s comments caused backlash around the world, and there was nearly no one to defend her. The United States Soccer Federation took their time mulling over what to do with the situation. It wasn’t until Solo was back on home soil that she found out the Federation’s decision. In an unsurprising turn of events, the Federation suspended Hope Solo from international competition for six months, and terminated her contract with the Women’s National team.
Since the decision, she has taken a leave from her club soccer team, and has been battling the Federation’s decision. Her stance has been stalwart, as she truly believes that she has been wronged by them. Solo has been recognized as one of the best female soccer players in the game, and holds multiple international records, both with the US team, and in the world. It’s her belief that the 17 years she’s spent with the US team gives her a bit of leverage when it comes to situations like this.
If this were her first offence, she would be right. She probably would get off with a fine, or perhaps just a warning. But this isn’t her first time having media-related issues. It’s not even her second. It’s her fifth time.
Early into her national career, she publically questioned the decision of her head coach not to start her after the team suffered a 4-0 loss to Brazil in the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The move got her removed from the National team’s roster for the bronze medal game, and from the team, until a new head coach was brought on.
The very next year, after an emotional gold medal win at the 2008 Olympics, Solo showed up the next morning on NBC’s Today Show drunk from the previous night of celebrations. While she didn’t say anything notable, it was a situation that could have gone belly up very quickly.
Hope managed to avoid the negative media spotlight for a number of years, before she was arrested in 2014 on domestic assault charges. She was charged with multiple accounts of domestic violence for allegedly assaulting her half-sister and her teenage nephew. The US National team graciously turned a blind eye and allowed her to play in the World Cup.
It wasn’t long before Solo was involved in another incident, this time involving her husband and a DUI charge in a Soccer National team car, which got her suspended for 30 days.
It is simply a fact that Hope Solo can’t help getting in trouble. The US National team has been more than patient with Solo, especially after the string of domestic assault cases that ended multiple NFL players’ careers. This was simply the last straw.
In terms of skill, the US National team is not going to be missing much. While Solo has had a legendary career, worthy of immediate enshrinement in whatever Hall of Fame she may be named to, it’s no secret or surprise that Solo has been nearing the end of it. Her performances in the group stages of the Rio Olympics were sub-par, and her performance in the quarter-final bout against Sweden was only a little better. This comes across as no surprise to many analysts, who firmly believe that Solo has simply aged out of her prime, and that the national team is best off moving forward without her.
While she is currently appealing her most recent suspension, and the aftermath of her contract termination is still setting in, her international career is most likely over. It’s highly unlikely she makes another iteration of the US Women’s National team. It’s best for Solo to ride into the sunset, alone, than to stick around and cause more headache for the team that has given her so much.
For her, I believe that the situation is simply hopeless.