Seattle Reign and USWNT Goalkeeper Hope Solo suspended six months

US Soccer suspended goalkeeper Hope Solo on Thursday as punishment for her remarks following the United States Women’s national team’s loss to Sweden in the Olympic quarterfinals.

When Cristiano Ronaldo criticized Iceland for a “small mentality” after their Euro 2016 fixture, Portugal’s FA rallied behind him. Meanwhile the world’s media shrugged it off and forgot about it. When America’s Hope Solo complained that Sweden were cowards for sitting back and counter-attacking at the Rio Olympics, US Soccer threw her under the bus.

Thursday’s move by US Soccer to suspend Hope Solo from the USWNT for six months and to terminate her contract with the federation was simply ridiculous. Solo, who called Sweden a “bunch of cowards” for their tactics in the Olympic quarterfinal, has been silenced by a soccer federation afraid to give its players a voice.

Solo’s comments were out of line at the time, but for US Soccer to turn their back on a player that has played over 200 matches is uncalled for. Solo has long been outspoken, something the federation already knew, and her suspension, in reality, seems to be for a collection of offenses.

Her reaction upon losing to Sweden in a penalty shoot was in the heat of the moment. She was wrong to label Sweden as cowards, their tactics were spot on to beat the much better Americans. Passion has always been the part of soccer that people love, and it seems to still be the part that America’s federation cannot come to terms with. Even taking away Solo’s accomplishments in the game, the banning of her for six months is harsh.

Grant Wahl on Twitter

SI: Response to Hope Solo suspension from Rich Nichols, executive director, USWNT Players Associationpic.twitter.com/ZOPsYgSCk7

Solo’s play at the Olympics was poor for the most part. She was outstanding against France in the second group stage match, yet against Colombia days later she was at fault for both goals. If the federation had dropped her based of her current form, then US Soccer could hold its head high. However, it has chosen to punish one of the country’s best and most well-known soccer players for something that most will have already forgotten about.

US Soccer’s decision to suspend Solo shows the difference between the men’s and women’s game, and how it is treated by the federation. The men’s team, often overpaid and unable to live up to sky-high expectations, are treated far differently. Would a male player be suspended for a similar outburst? Not likely.

US player and Sporting KC midfielder Benny Feilhaber criticized coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s selection policy after not being picked for the USMNT when in form. Yet, his words were quickly swept away as sour grapes from a player not good enough to make the team. Landon Donovan, who criticized Klinsmann when he wasn’t picked for the 2014 World Cup, was never punished by club or country. Donovan wasn’t even punished by LA Galaxy for his view on David Beckham in Grant Wahl’s “The Beckham Experiment”.

So, why has Solo been treated differently for something so similar? Perhaps, Donovan’s all-American boy persona kept him from being thrown under the bus. Solo’s bad girl image has seemingly helped US Soccer come to their absurd decision.

Grant Wahl on Twitter

Hope Solo’s response to SI on her suspension.pic.twitter.com/Y5E5KcrECo

Solo’s suspension seems to smack more of putting a USWNT player in her place. Of course, there is the equal pay debate that is still raging. Prior to the Olympics, Solo and her teammates spoke to the media and even sold shirts to raise the awareness of equal pay for the USWNT. It can’t be overlooked that Solo’s outburst in Rio is one way to punish her for lobbying for better pay.

The US Soccer Federation’s decision to suspend Solo shouldn’t be overlooked by the other members of the team. For those that speak out about coaches, teams and pay, they may be silenced.

According to reports, Solo’s future with the Seattle Reign could be in jeopardy as well. Perhaps a move to Europe would suit her. However, at 35, this could be the end of Solo’s time at the top of soccer. It could even lead to her retirement.

Drew Farmer
I am a freelance journalist and author currently living in Manchester, England. Originally from the USA, I have written about sports and travel for years.I have written for Hopeless Football Romantic magazine, The Football Pink magazine, World Soccer Talk, Sports Collectors Daily, Forza Italian Football and many more. My debut book Soccer Travels was released in spring 2016, and details travelling to soccer matches around the globe. It can be purchased on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.