Hope Solo, who has made dozens of headlines throughout her stellar career, is in the news nowadays for all the wrong reasons.
The U.S. women’s goalkeeper was suspended for six months on Wednesday by U.S. Soccer Federation for hurling insults at the Swedish team after her team lost to Sweden in the Rio Olympics.
“I thought we played a courageous game. I thought we had many opportunities on goal,” Solo said. “I think we showed a lot of heart. We came back from a goal down, I’m very proud of this team. And I also think we played a bunch of cowards. The best team did not win today, I strongly, firmly believe that.”
U.S. women’s soccer Coach Jill Ellis and the federation’s chief executive, Dan Flynn, informed Solo about her suspension on Wednesday.
US Soccer has also terminated Hope Solo's national team contract.— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) August 25, 2016
The U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said the comments by Solo were “unacceptable.”
"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,” Gulati said.
Besides the suspension, Solo’s national team contract was terminated. USWNT said Solo was due to make $72,000 this year but thanks to the untimely termination, she would no longer be getting $36,000.
While Solo can still play with her club team, Seattle Reign, it is not yet clear if she will continue to receive her $56,000 National Women’s Soccer League salary, which is also paid by U.S. Soccer, in light of her termination.
However, Solo’s punishment, which comes only a few days after “LochteGate,” has also raised questions of gender-based double standards in sports.
USWNT Players Association executive director Rich Nichols called Solo’s termination “excessive, unprecedented, disproportionate, and a violation of Ms. Solo’s First Amendment rights.”
“She got fired,” Nichols said. “She was fired for making comments that no man would have been fired for making. It's a draconian penalty.”
Irony: Woman in sports bad mouths another team = career over.— Koringul (@Koringul) August 25, 2016
Man in sports beats wife and son over 7+ yrs = still playing
Many others quickly pointed out the disparity between the soccer player’s penalty and U.S. swimmer Lochte’s, who concocted a false robbery story in addition to vandalizing a Rio gas station.
So Hope Solo gets suspended for speaking her mind meanwhile Ryan Lochte gets cast on "Dancing with the Stars"? pic.twitter.com/qS4GoFh14t— Ξvan Ross Katz (@evanrosskatz) August 25, 2016
so if Hope Solo got a 6 month suspension for saying a team was cowardly..shouldnt Ryan Lochte get a ban for actually committing a crime?— Tegan Laing (@teganlaing) August 25, 2016
Hope Solo treated like a sports criminal as Ryan Lochte might be rewarded with Dancing with the Stars. Our planet is about to implode.— JT The Brick (@JTTheBrick) August 25, 2016
Hope Solo gets suspended for 6 months practicing her right to freedom of speech, but Ryan Lochte defaces public property and nothing. Wow.— Louis Giordano (@LouisGiordano) August 25, 2016
Hope Solo suspended 6 months for a PR nightmare. Ryan Lochte nothing for an international calamity. What?— StaceyDales (@StaceyDales) August 25, 2016
Solo has yet to apologize for her remarks but responded to her suspension.
Hope Solo's response to SI on her suspension. pic.twitter.com/Y5E5KcrECo— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) August 25, 2016
It remains to be seen whether Solo’s appeal works but from the U.S. Soccer president’s words, it doesn’t seem likely. This isn't the first time Solo has made a name for herself in a negative way off the field. She was involved in a domestic violence dispute with her sister and nephew in 2014 and suspended once before after her husband was arrested for driving a U.S. women’s soccer team van drunk with Solo in the passenger seat.
“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,” Gulati said of her termination.