USSF tries to silence Hope Solo with six-month suspension, terminated contract

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Twelve days after Hope Solo called Sweden “cowards” after they beat the U.S. in the Olympic quarterfinals, the U.S. federation has punished her with the combination of a six-month suspension and a terminated contract.

From the USSF statement on the matter:

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.

According to former national team member Julie Foudy, only the national team portion of Solo’s contract with the federation has been terminated, which makes this far less substantial than it may sound.

Still, there is a message being sent here. And that message seems excessive for being a sore loser (has any other player, man or woman, been suspended even a day for similar comments?). Solo’s pending domestic violence charges stemming from an incident in 2014 didn’t bring this sort of response, and she only missed two games for her involvement in an incident where her husband was arrested for driving a U.S. team van under the influence of alcohol. So why now and why for an ultimately silly comment?

Well, it’s interesting that Solo is one of five women’s national team players who filed a federal complaint against the USSF for wage discrimination back in March. She has been arguably the most vocal in leading the fight for equal pay and the federation hasn’t taken kindly to the campaign. It seems that it’s at least possible that the federation is trying to silence one of the movement’s leaders and send a message to others players that dissenters will be eliminated at the first opportunity.

Obviously, that could be thinking too much of the U.S. federation. Their day to day operations indicate that thinking them capable of an opportunistic plot to exact retribution against an “enemy” from within is a stretch. Still, it’s something to consider and it’s also something that surely will not be lost on Solo’s now former teammates.