Hope Solo doesn’t think her comments calling her Swedish opponents “cowards” during the Olympics are what made U.S. Soccer suspend her for six months and terminate her contract with the national team. The 35-year-old goalkeeper instead thinks she was punished because she’s been fighting for equal rights for women in the sport.
“They’re going to use my comments as an excuse to get rid of me forever so that they don’t have to deal with such a strong voice and opposition to field conditions and playing conditions and pay,” Solo said (per Fox Sports) during Friday’s episode of “Keeping Score,” a documentary series that aired on the Fullscreen streaming service. “I think I’m just a thorn in their side and it’s time for them to cut their losses.”
A portion of the documentary went viral earlier this week because it showed Solo’s explicit reaction at the exact moment when she was told of her punishment.
“Seventeen [expletive] years and it’s over!” she yelled.
Solo, appearing more composed later in the documentary, brought up the length of her stint again.
“Seventeen years on this team, and then to be treated this way in the end is not surprising from U.S. Soccer, to be honest,” Solo said. “I feel like I’m being pushed out because it can’t be based off performance, my health. It can’t be based off anything but they don’t like me, because they know I’ve been fighting so hard for equal pay.”
Solo’s now ex-teammate Megan Rapinoe also raised her suspicions of U.S. Soccer’s motivations for suspending Solo.
“As a member of the team and of the CBA group and of the [Players Association], I’m pretty unhappy with a sort of arbitrary six-month suspension for calling someone a coward,” Rapinoe said in the documentary. “… I think that there’s probably some legal strategy going on with it all.”
Solo and Rapinoe are two of five members of the USWNT who filed a complaint against U.S. Soccer earlier this year citing discrimination.
“While we’ve not seen this complaint and can’t comment on the specifics of it, we’re disappointed about this action,” U.S. Soccer admitted in a statement after hearing of the complaint in March. “We’ve been a world leader in women’s soccer and are proud of the commitment we’ve made to building the women’s game in the United States over the past 30 years.”
U.S. Soccer has maintained Solo’s punishment is justified, citing not just the unsportsmanlike comments she made during the Olympics but unnamed “past incidents,” as well.
Solo was once caught riding in a Team USA van her husband, former NFL tight end Jerramy Stevens, was driving when he was cited for driving under the influence. Solo was also charged in an alleged domestic-violence dispute involving her underage nephew.
“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,” the federation said in a statement last month.