“I’ve learned a lot of lessons down the road. Boy, haven’t I ever,” former U.S. soccer goalkeeper Hope Solo told Norah O’Donnell in an interview that aired Tuesday night on Showtime’s “60 Minutes Sports.”
If you recall, Solo described the Swedish national team players as “a bunch of cowards” because of their defensive-minded tactics during a stunning penalty-kick upset of the Americans in last summer’s Olympic quarterfinals. Solo was given a six-month suspension and removed from the U.S. women’s soccer team roster for her comments, and her career with the national team was presumed to be over: She’s currently recovering from shoulder-replacement surgery and will be 38 years old by the time of the 2019 World Cup, the next major tournament for the U.S. women.
Still, the first goalkeeper ever to record 100 career shutouts in international play told O’Donnell that she expects to challenge for a spot on the roster once her shoulder heals, a process that could take a year, she said.
“Nobody beat me physically and for me not to have the opportunity to see if there’s another goalkeeper better than me, that doesn’t seem right,” she said.
But Solo also didn’t shy away from making the intemperate comments that have hurt her career in the past and directly forced her split with the U.S. women’s national team. O’Donnell said that Solo called U.S. women’s coach Jill Ellis “a poor leader and a bad tactician” during their interview, though the piece oddly never showed Solo actually saying these things.
Solo also repeated her claim that U.S. Soccer suspended her because she was part of a group of players who last year filed a wage-discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, maintaining the U.S. women were paid four times less than their male counterparts despite bringing in more revenue.
“I think the federation thought that, if they removed me from the team, then they could remove me from this fight for equal pay,” she said. “And they got that wrong because I am more impassioned about this fight now than I ever have been before.”
A U.S. Soccer spokesman declined to comment on Solo’s latest remarks. In announcing her suspension in August, U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said the suspension resulted from an accumulation of “past incidents” involving Solo, including:
— Her dismissal from the 2007 Women’s World Cup team over critical comments she made about teammate Brianna Scurry. “It’s a battle on the field. You know, this is our livelihood, this is a battle, we’re representing our country. You don’t have time to ask nicely,” Solo said of the incident during the segment. “You have to be demanding of one another. I wish more female athletes had that intensity. Otherwise, to me, it’s just girl sports.”
— Her 2014 arrest on domestic violence charges in which police accused Solo of assaulting her half-sister and nephew, a legal issue that is not yet over. “I would love some closure,” Solo told O’Donnell.
— A 2015 incident in which her husband was arrested for DUI while driving a USSF-rented vehicle in which Solo was a passenger.
— The “cowards” comment about the Swedish players.
The other four players who joined Solo in filing the complaint — Carli Lloyd, Becky Sauerbrunn, Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe — have not been sanctioned by U.S. Soccer.
“I never thought you could get fired for being a poor sport. I was a poor sport,” Solo told O’Donnell. “We had just lost in the Olympics. We’re supposed to be the number one team in the world. It’s okay to be passionate, it’s okay to hurt.”
That last part is undeniably true, but Solo still is confusing passion with loutishness. And so she does things like disparage the coach who will decide whether to take her back and lob unfounded accusations against the body that suspended her for ample reason. It’s nothing new from Solo, an act that long ago got old.