By Kallie Gregg
In a statement posted to Facebook last week, suspended U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT) goaltender Hope Solo announced that she recently underwent a shoulder replacement surgery.
“An opportunity presented itself after my contract was terminated and while difficult, it opened the door to take care of a long overdue surgery,” Solo wrote on her Facebook page.
This comes on the heels of Solo’s six-month suspension from the national squad and her subsequent decision to sit out the remainder of this season for her club team, the Seattle Reign of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).
Solo was suspended for six months by the U.S. Soccer Federation after comments she made following the USWNT’s quarterfinal loss to Sweden in the Rio Olympics this summer.
In a postgame press conference, Solo called the Swedish team “a bunch of cowards” in reference to perceived defensive play in their shock upset of the American gold medal favorites.
Shortly after, the Seattle Reign granted Solo personal leave for the rest of the season.
The suspension was ostensibly in regards to Solo’s remarks after the Sweden game, which U.S. Soccer Sunil Gulati president called “unacceptable.”
“The comments by Hope Solo […] do not meet the standard of conduct we require from our National Team players. 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 in a statement after the suspension was announced.
However, USWNT coach Jill Ellis went on to say that other behavioral issues factored into the decision.
“Over time there’s been off-the-field distractions and the federation has taken action. Each time action has been taken, there’s been made clear an expectation that this would be the last time such a step would be necessary. Sadly, Hope’s postgame comments forced us to make a significant decision. It wasn’t a decision just made about comments. It was a sum total of actions that have unfortunately shown a negative light on our program,” Ellis said in a September interview with Fox Soccer.
Solo has a history of disciplinary issues, personally and professionally. Ahead of the Olympics, she was widely criticized by Brazilian fans and media for posting on social media that she was concerned about contracting Zika during the Olympics.
In 2015, Solo’s husband was charged with a DUI while driving a U.S. Soccer van after a training session. Solo was present at the time of the arrest and reportedly also intoxicated.
The year before, Solo was arrested on charges of domestic violence involving two of her relatives at a family gathering.
A lack of expected sportsmanship, on top of a disappointing performance on the world stage, was seemingly the last straw for Ellis and U.S. Soccer.
It remains unclear if Solo will be offered a new national team contract after her suspension ends, or if she will make a return to her club team next season. At 35, she has 202 caps, two Olympic gold medals, and a World Cup trophy for the USWNT over a 17 year career.
In April, Solo and other members of the USWNT filed a wage discrimination lawsuit against US Soccer for their treatment of the women’s team.
“I feel like I’m being pushed out. It can’t be based off performance […] It can’t be based off anything but that they don’t like me. Because […] I’ve been fighting so hard for equal pay. They’re going to use my comments as an excuse to get rid of me forever. … I think I’m just a thorn in their side and it’s time for them to cut their losses,” Solo said in Keeping Score, a documentary series which followed her and other USWNT players during the Olympics.