Hope Solo and her family have always made for media fodder. Her father had a criminal record, spent time homeless, kept changing his names — and then died before he could elucidate the matter.
Her family is again in the news, but for very different reasons. The 33-year-old soccer player, who has collected a record 73 shutouts, faces up to six months in jail if convicted of two misdemeanor counts of fourth-degree domestic violence assault.
The U.S. Olympic and soccer communities — and many of her sponsors — stayed quiet about the charges until Monday.
“Abuse in all forms is unacceptable,” U.S. Olympic Committee executive wrote in a statement to USA Today. “The allegations involving Ms. Solo are disturbing and are inconsistent with our expectations of Olympians. We have had discussions with U.S. Soccer and fully expect them to take action if it is determined that the allegations are true.”
“From the beginning, we considered the information available and have taken a deliberate and thoughtful approach regarding Hope Solo’s status with the national team,” U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said in a statement released Monday night. “Based on that information, U.S. Soccer stands by our decision to allow her to participate with the team as the legal process unfolds. If new information becomes available, we will carefully consider it.”
The focus on Solo’s domestic abuse charges exemplify what has been a recent and humiliating fall for the soccer star. Not only have the criminal allegations dinged her image, once burnished by fawning magazine coverage and a stint on “Dancing with the Stars,” but she is also now a victim of a recent leak of private celebrity images, stirring mean-spirited ridicule on social media.
Part of Solo’s general appeal has always been her combustible temperament. She has twinned incredible skill with a fiery personality that has gotten her into trouble as often as not. After the United States lost to Brazil 4-0 in 2007, Solo ripped the team’s goalie after the game. “There’s no doubt in my mind I would have made those saves,” she said. “And the fact of the matter is, it’s not 2004 anymore … it’s 2007, and I think you have to live in the present.”
The team suspended her after the comments, but now she faces even greater criticism. Some said she shouldn’t be playing at all, given the current heat the NFL’s enduring over its own domestic violence issues.
“While U.S. Soccer doesn’t have the same high profile as the NFL, how do the cases differ?,” asked the Post’s Cindy Boren. “Aren’t women’s soccer players just as much role models as male football players?
“Meanwhile, Solo plays on,” wrote USA Today columnist Christine Brennan. “…The cases involving the NFL players and Solo are not entirely parallel, but the common thread of allegations of violence runs among them all. Let’s hope that U.S. Soccer and its corporate sponsors are not treating the situations differently because the alleged domestic abuser is a woman, not a man.”
The allegations, according to the Seattle Times: Solo arrived at her sister’s house apparently drunk and angry in June, and continued drinking wine. The altercation began when her 17-year-old cousin discussed his thespian aspirations, stating that a versatile actor needed to have an “athletic state of mind.” Solo allegedly responded he was “too fat and overweight and crazy to ever be an athlete.”
After the pair argued for a while longer, Solo allegedly punched the 17-year-old in the face and hurled him to the ground. Then when the teen’s mother tried to break up the scuffle, Solo attacked her as well. The teenage boy then broke a wooden broom over Solo’s head, and told police he grabbed “an old gun that did not work.” Meanwhile, he claimed, Solo was “circling like a shark.”
He said the family had only just reconciled with Solo because “she always does this.”
Solo pleaded not guilty. Her attorney, Todd Maybrown, told the Associated Press she was actually a victim. “Hope is not guilty of any crime,” he said. “In fact, our investigation reveals that Hope was assaulted and injured during this unfortunate incident.”
Correction: This post has been updated to reflect that Hope Solo has had 73 shutouts, but they have not been consecutive.