Preface: I love Hope Solo. She’s an incredible keeper and was an instrumental part in the team that helped me fall in love with the sport. And she’s still probably better than Alyssa Naeher and Ashlyn Harris. But I find it near impossible to root for someone with such baggage.
Hope Solo, at the Hashtag Sports conference in New York, called soccer a, “rich, white-kid sport.” She’s spot-freaking-on. She’s emerged as a leader of the movement for change within USSF, as she ran for the federation presidency last year and has been outspoken since. The thing is, Solo’s not the right person to lead this charge.
Solo’s full comment is:
“We have alienated the Hispanic communities. We have alienated our black communities. We have alienated the underrepresented communities, even rural communities, so soccer in America right now is a rich white-kid sport. Then we have to ask ourselves: Well, no wonder why we are not qualifying for the World Cup when we have alienated a huge population of really talented youth soccer players. And that’s the state of the game right now.”
Her comment is perfect. In light of Jonathan Gonzalez opting to switch federations from the US to Mexico; in light of the controversy of “Mexico being the US’s second team,” which in second thought, is insulting and carries a condescending, little brother tone; in light of most Hispanic Americans rooting for South and Central American countries rather than the US, the US has a serious homogeneity problem.
Solo is right to bring up points, but she’s the wrong person to lead the charge. Her background will forever taint any movement she heads up. The article by Sporting News writer Michael McCarthy about Solo’s comments ended with a caveat about Solo’s past:
“Solo was arrested on assault charges in 2014 in Washington state in a case involving her nephew and half-sister. The charges were later dismissed. During the 2016 Olympics in Rio, she slammed the Swedish women’s team as a ‘bunch of cowards.’ U.S. Soccer terminated Solo’s contract after those comments, citing ‘conduct that is counter to the organization’s principles.'”
Much of what Solo brought up was her talking points on her USSF campaign trail. The US Soccer world was divided into two factions during the presidential campaign: the change party and the establishment party. The establishment party was led by SUM, Chuck Blazer, and Sunil-Gulati-shills Carlos Cordeiro and Kathy Carter. The change and progress party was led by USSF greats Eric Wynalda, Kyle Martino, and yes, Hope Solo.
There are many great names within the progressive camp, and few, if any, have as much baggage as Solo. Her 2014 arrest should’ve been the end of her USSF career, and the fact that it wasn’t should’ve signaled the moral shortcomings of the federation to Americans and those in the global soccer community. Her inclusion in the team after her 2014 arrest should be seen as a dark stain on manager Jill Ellis’s legacy. It can be argued that the domestic violence charges against Solo were dropped, but they were reinstated in 2015, and only dropped earlier this past year when the victims refused to testify.
Hope Solo has the passion, knowledge, and experience to lead the movement for progress and reformation within US Soccer. She’s saying all the right things. She’s incredibly outspoken and has a large personality. However, the baggage she carries will stymie the movement, and therefore, she can’t be the one to lead it.