Hope Solo was suspended for six months by the U.S. Soccer last night for “conduct that is counter to the organization’s principles.” She will not be eligible to play for the U.S. Women’s National Team until February 2017.
In Solo’s statement released later in the evening via her Twitter account, it was revealed that her contract was also terminated. Women’s national team players have a contract with U.S. Soccer due to the lower paying contracts they might receive at the club level. This was part of the last round of collective bargaining negotiations and provides the women a greater level of financial security than before.
U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati cited “past incidents” with Solo in the determination of this decision.
Let’s look at a couple of things at play here. Solo will not miss anything substantial during her suspension, the team is slated to play four exhibition games. She was suspended for thirty days in early 2015 when her husband received a DUI while driving a U.S. vehicle. That caused her to miss two exhibition games in the lead up to the Women’s World Cup.
Terminating her contract this time sends a much stronger message than the six month suspension.
Is it possible that the Olympics was always going to be the last time we see Solo in competitive games for the U.S.? Absolutely, the next Women’s World Cup is in 2019 and Solo will be 38 years old by then. Ashlyn Harris, Alyssa Naeher, and Adrianna Franch were called into last winter’s camp along with Solo, they are the likely pool of contenders to replace her now.
Filip Bondy of the New York Daily News said this after her last suspension:
“What is left unsaid now is that Solo’s self-destructive behavior has become a great concern to everyone who knows her — including teammates, U.S. officials and coaches. They are trying to stand by her again now, though she is making it more difficult by the day. U.S. Soccer just hopes it can get her to Winnipeg on June 8 for the World Cup opener against Australia...”
Now that this competitive cycle is over, U.S. Soccer has cut ties with Hope Solo. Would they have done this if this post-game interview had taken place after the Women’s World Cup and the Olympics were still upcoming? Was it a case of the federation giving her every chance to get things right and they finally had enough, or was it an easier decision because there are no competitive games to worry about for a while?
Considering her previous discipline for misconduct, either this one is an accumulation of all that has happened in the past, or U.S. Soccer wanted to send a statement when it would not impact competitive results. My guess is the latter.
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