Hope Solo is known as one of the best soccer players in the history of the United States. After beginning her career at the University of Washington, Solo was recruited to the US Women's Soccer team during her freshman year. Her debut game resulted in an 8-0 win over Iceland in 2000. After that, Solo continued to play in three summer Olympics, winning gold in 2008 and 2012, and three FIFA World Championships in 2007, 2011, and 2015. Solo also received her fair share of awards, including being the first goalkeeper to ever win the Bronze Ball at the 2011 FIFA World Championship. She holds the US record for most career shutouts and was selected to join the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup All-Star Team. After all of these accomplishments, however, Solo’s career abruptly ended in 2016 when her contract was terminated with the USWNT.
Solo’s first encounter with the police was in 2014 when she was charged with two counts of domestic violence. The fight, which is described in a full police report, began when Solo was intoxicated and sitting outside of the house of her half-sister, Teresa Obert, and nephew when the two arrived. According to Obert, Solo was angry about an argument she had with her husband and arrived at their house looking for consolation. After continuing to drink, Solo became verbally abusive, attacking her nephew for being a “mama’s boy.” She then attempted to swing at her nephew, prompting him to subdue her. The fight continued with Solo proceeding to punch her nephew and slam his head against the ground. The police were called and Solo was combative with them as well. She called one police officer a “fourteen year old boy,” and when asked to take her necklace off, she stated that the necklace cost more than the officer’s yearly salary.
While all of these facts have been proven through police records and sworn depositions, Solo argues that she was painted as a villain when that is not the case. When speaking with Good Morning America, Solo stated that her nephew is at least 120 pounds heavier than her and almost a foot taller, coming in at 6 ft 9 inches. Her point is that there is no way she would be able to do as much damage to her nephew as is alleged. Eventually, Solo apologized for her actions and was able to continue playing in the 2014 World Cup. All charges were dropped in 2018. This case led to lots of contention, as U.S. Soccer stayed relatively silent, not punishing Solo in any way.
On August 12, 2016, the US was set to play against Sweden. The game went into overtime for thirty minutes and eventually led to a shootout. Both of the US players were unsuccessful at their attempts at the goal, and Solo allowed a ball shot by Lisa Dahlkvist to give the Swedes the win. This goal eliminated the US from the 2016 Championship after a fourteen game streak, leading to lots of emotion from both the players and the rest of America as they watched from home. Solo later said, “[USWNT] lost to a bunch of cowards,” referring to the Swedes. She later clarified the statement, arguing that the Swedish team had been playing combatively and had not been playing “real soccer.” This statement ended Solo’s career as she was immediately suspended and her contract was terminated with USWNT for performing “conduct that is counter to the organization’s principles.” Solo had appeared in 200 games and had been the starting goalkeeper since 2005.
This decision could be seen as dramatic, considering plenty of other athletes have made worse comments and remained unpunished, including Tyler Seguin’s tweet about Texas. That being said, Solo’s domestic abuse case had never been mentioned by the USWNT, so it is possible that she was already on thin ice and this comment pushed her over the edge.
More recently, Solo was charged with child abuse, resisting arrest, and impaired driving. She was found in a parking lot in Winston-Salem, North Carolina where she had been unconscious for over an hour. Her twin two-year old sons were in the backseat. Solo refused a sobriety test, resulting in a blood-test proving that she was heavily under the influence. Since the arrest, Solo has released a statement through her attorney stating that her family is extremely important to her and that she looks forward to being able to defend herself.
These charges will forever taint her name as she continues to live her daily life. While she was once known as the best goalkeeper America had ever seen, she will now be seen as a negligent mother with anger issues. Without attempting to defend her actions, it is important to compare her experience to men in the NFL who get away with countless domestic abuse cases and continue to be idolized. There is no dispute that she should be punished for her choices, but so should the countless number of other players who have made more offensive comments and committed more serious crimes.