The official account shows that Hope Solo extended her shutout record to 73 games as the U.S. women’s national team beat Mexico 4-0 in a friendly Thursday night in Rochester, N.Y. But as the NFL grapples with its domestic-violence crisis, Solo, who has been accused of the same crime, continues to play for her pro soccer team as well as the national team as she awaits trial in November. Solo has pleaded not guilty to two counts of misdemeanor domestic violence in an alleged assault of her half-sister and 17-year-old nephew last summer in Kirkland, Wash.
Unlike some of the biggest NFL stars, Solo, who is their counterpart in women’s soccer and someone touted as a role model, quietly goes about her business of keeping soccer balls from going into the net. NFL stars like Ray Rice, Greg Hardy, Jonathan Dwyer and Adrian Peterson were banished after massive sponsor, political and fan pressure, but Nike, for instance, has remained silent on Solo.
Rice is appealing an indefinite suspension by the NFL and was cut by the Baltimore Ravens after he knocked out his then-fiancee; Hardy and Peterson are both on the exempt commissioner’s list (essentially on leave with pay) while their legal cases are pending. Dwyer was suspended by the Arizona Cardinals after his arrest Wednesday on a charge of head-butting his wife. The Carolina Panthers’ Hardy is appealing his conviction by a judge of assaulting and threatening an ex-girlfriend; the Minnesota Vikings’ Peterson was arrested last weekend on a child-abuse charge. Solo, who is also on the Seattle Reign roster, continues to play as a big year for women’s soccer is looming with qualifying this fall for the next summer’s World Cup.
“We are aware that Hope is handling a personal situation at the moment,” said Neil Buethe, U.S. Soccer director of communications, told USA Today’s Christine Brennan, who criticized the organization’s decision to honor Solo’s record with a social media campaign, last month. “At the same time, she has an opportunity to set a significant record that speaks to her hard work and dedication over the years with the National Team. While considering all factors involved, we believe that we should recognize that in the proper way.”
While U.S. Soccer doesn’t have the same high profile as the NFL, how do the cases differ? Aren’t women’s soccer players just as much role models as male football players? The goalkeeping record is an an important one, both for Solo and for women’s soccer, but does it really trump an accusation of domestic violence? Why is the notion of awaiting due process so inconsistently applied? And why aren’t more people talking about the fact that domestic violence isn’t simply an issue of men against women?