The U.S. women’s national soccer team begins its pursuit of a berth in next summer’s World Cup on Wednesday night and, as she awaits resolution of domestic-violence charges against her, goalkeeper Hope Solo will continue to play for the team despite the controversy surrounding her.
The U.S. plays Trinidad & Tobago in the first game of the CONCACAF Women’s Championships, which serves as qualifying for World Cup, in Kansas City and Solo’s presence on the roster has been a source of heated debate about whether there’s a double standard for men and women accused of domestic violence. Most recently, the decision to keep her on the roster was criticized by a former teammate, but the U.S. Soccer Federation has said it intends to allow Solo to play while the legal process continues. The team’s coach, Jill Ellis, defended that decision that last week.
“There was a lot of thought and a lot of discussions within U.S. Soccer, and certainly we acknowledge that these are very serious issues, but after careful thought and consideration we just determined to stand by our decision to let this legal process play out and have Hope remain with the team,” Ellis said.
Solo is scheduled to go to trial Nov. 4 on misdemeanor charges stemming from an altercation on June 21 involving her half-sister and 17-year-old nephew. She has entered a plea of not guilty. Judging by tweets to her over 800,000 followers Tuesday, Solo, who apologized last summer for what she said was an “unfortunate incident,” is focused on the game:
Jilian Loyden, a former member of the U.S. team whose sister died in a domestic incident, questioned the decision to allow Solo to continue to play in a recent USA Today op-ed piece. “Speaking out on these issues is not always easy. Hope Solo is my teammate and a personal mentor. But I cannot stand by as young fans receive the message that this behavior — even if the allegations proved to be inaccurate — can go unnoticed.
“U.S. Soccer needs to send the right message. They need to communicate that domestic violence is never okay and that it will not be tolerated. Our league can no longer turn a blind eye to the allegations that Solo assaulted two family members.”
The CONCACAF tournament will be played in four cities in the U.S., ending Oct. 26. The U.S. team, which is 10-2-3, is undefeated in its last nine matches.