A Discussion of the Suspension of Hope Solo

I didn’t quite believe it at first but it’s true, American Women’s Football player Hope Solo has been handed a six month suspension.

Hope Solo, daughter of Han, has found herself yet again mired in controversy. This time she has been suspended and contract with the federation terminated for comments made following the USA-Sweden Olympic quarter-finals in Rio. The game finished 1-1 but the US lost 5-4 on penalties. Following the game she said “I’m very proud of this team but I also think we played a bunch of cowards. The best team did not win today, I strongly, firmly believe thatThey didn’t want to open play. They didn’t want to pass the ball. They didn’t want to play great soccer. It was a combative game, a physical game… And they tried to counter with long balls.” Not a sore loser I see.

She has since responded to the suspension in a FaceBook post.

 

Hope Solo Responds To Suspension.jpg

 

Let’s take a few choice quotes from this post, namely “In those commitments, I have never wavered” and “I could not be the player I am without being the person I am, even when I haven’t made the best choices or said the right things” – I think these could do with some analysis, eh?

First thing is at least she’s taking responsibility for her comments, not that there’s really anything wrong with them. If anything, this whole affair has been heavily over-inflated, blown out of proportion. She, a member of the losing team, called the winning team a bunch of cowards because she didn’t like their choice of play. I daresay people watching the game back home had choicer words than that. Yet this behaviour is not considered to be part of the “team-spirit” mumbo-jumbo that is now allegedly integral to sports, because a bit of honest and harmless team rivalry is now such a danger. Sure she spoke when flooded with emotion, I see no issue here.

It is to be noted that there isn’t much of an effect from this suspension as she is still allowed to play with Seattle Reign FC, her home football club. “Solo essentially missing nothing w #USWNT & allowed to play w @SeattleReignFC, which US Soccer pays for. More symbolic than substantive.Julie Foudy, former watergirl and current ESPN’er, tweeted. In other words the ban is for show, nothing more than a façade, she still gets to play.

This sham of a suspension though hardly covers it, Matt Calkins at The Seattle Times referred to Hope Solo as “the wart that keeps coming back” and discussed how this suspension is more of a slap on the wrist than an actual punishment:

 

This was a perfect opportunity for an organization to feign intolerance despite tolerating worse in the past. This was a contrived display of strength on the heels of weak moment after weak moment.

Suspending a player from the USWNT now is like suspending a kid from trick-or-treating on Nov. 1. This isn’t a sanction for the 35-year-old Solo — it’s a vacation.

 

This suspension is a culmination of all the other transgressions from Solo they’ve had to tolerate, but rather than actually do their jobs when they were supposed to they’ve acted now when it’s less of an inconvenience for her. Great.

However there were those who took a less sane response, Rich Nichols the Executive Director of USWNT Players Association couldn’t help but cry “muh soggy knees”.

Yes Rich you have hit the nail right on the head, she got suspended because she is a womyn; her history has had absolutely no influence on this odd decision. A history that we shall take a look at today.

Firstly there was that one time on June 21st 2014 when she had been at a party and allegedly called her nephew a pussy and slammed his head into the floor. This was the product of a drunken altercation involving Solo, her half-sister and her nephew. As part of said drunken altercation the nephew told Solo to “Get the fuck out of my house you cunt” to which she responded “I don’t take orders from a 17 year old”. There are several accounts of the night, most including claims of Solo acting belligerently, referring to the nephew as “too fat and overweight and crazy to ever be an athlete”. Violence occurred when the nephew told Solo that she and her father were crazy, inspiring Solo to charge the nephew, punching him in the face and tackling him. The teen reportedly told the police that “she always does this”. The charges still currently stand. Perhaps Solo should not be drinking when around people … or at all if this is how she behaves.

 

The 911 call made about Hope Solo. [Source]

 

That was not to be the end because following her arrest she was a little less than cooperative. According to this jail report, she was intoxicated and maintained verbal abuse against the staff the found herself around, at one point yelling “you’re such a bitch you’re scared of me because you know that if the handcuffs were off I’d kick your ass”, charming. At another point earlier in the night, when asked to remove her necklace she informed the officer that the necklace was worth more than they earn in a year. To drive home her state of intoxication allow me to include this little quote from the report:

Mrs. Stevens showed signs of being intoxicated. Her eyes were bloodshot, speech was slurred, lack of good coordination, and the smell of intoxicants coming from her breath were present.

I love technical talk, so calming. Perhaps Solo should not be drinking when around people … or at all if this is how she behaves. However, it would be unfair of me to paint Hope with one brush – a singular piece of data does not indicate a trend.

Thankfully I have some more to show of Solo behaving like this again although I’m not gonna delve into times where she’s been a bit firebrand, because someone having a bit of a gobby mouth doesn’t really bother me. So, dear readers, I will not reference the time she ripped Greg Ryan because so what? All she did was criticise (in her own way) the national team’s coach. I also won’t go into that one time that she and some other women’s players tried to file a lawsuit against the soccer federation because they don’t earn enough. The former obviously deserving attention from the NFL as they are comments made publicly about her employer but the latter is just feminist stupidity and only deserves our unrelenting mockery. But that’s for another time.

The “more to show” that I mentioned is that little incident back in January 2015 when her husband was arrested for Driving Under Influence with her in the car – she, again, acted belligerently to the officers. There are two things of note here, first is that this incident occurred while Solo was attending the current national training camp and second (and probably most important) is that the vehicle in question was a U.S. Soccer official team van. Oops. Talk about bringing your employer into disrepute. According to police, her husband’s blood alcohol level was four times over the legal limit. For this she received a 30 day suspension.

Can you really blame her for being like this? After all, she’s not really had the most calming of upbringings – be it a kidnapping from her father or her alcoholic mother or her brother who would beat her. Soccer was for her a coping strategy, she felt better when she was kicking the ball around. Not that I’m defending her or justifying her behaviour, I’m simply giving history and context. It is worth noting though that she entered therapy not long after the DUI arrest incident.

Not that I’m astute but I’ve noticed a slight trend here of alcohol consumption, acting inappropriately, belligerence (often on the edge of violence) and piss-poor punishments. But, harking back to what Rich Nichols was saying, we’ve got to question whether this action would ever have been taken against a male player. He’s not the only one to ponder such mysteries:





Let’s start with Josh Brown who has been suspended for 1 game (note: O-N-E) for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. His crime? An alleged domestic violence dispute he had with his ex-wife prior to the start of the 2015 season. His punishment has been called a slap on the wrist and according to the linked article “the league absolutely dropped the ball here and should be ashamed of its handling of this situation”. Yes, an allegation should equate to evidence which should directly lead to punishment. Glad we sussed that one out.

There’s also the infamous Ray Rice incident, whose case was dismissed, when Ray and his then fiancée Janay had a fight in an elevator that resulted in Jay being knocked out. Despite CCTV footage clearly showing them both hitting each other on the night of February 15th 2014, it was all skewed by the ever wonderful Duluth model, painting him as the violent male and her as the hapless female. Even in this report which covers Janay’s defence of Ray, the narrative is maintained. The CCTV footage CNN provides is tampered with so as to mask Janay’s attacks further punishing Ray. His punishment you ask? Indefinite suspension. He has now since been reinstated but has yet to sign to a team.

It was because of this incident why the NFL announced a new domestic violence policy, the one mentioned in the Josh Brown incident, introducing a six-game suspension without pay for the first offence and a lifetime ban for a second offence. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell specified that these rules will apply to all NFL personnel, including executives and owners, not just players. A player who receives a lifetime ban can petition for reinstatement after one year. This was announced a little over a month after the Hope Solo incident. NFL teams then unanimously endorsed a revised and strengthened Personal Conduct Policy in December 2014.

Yet, despite this new policy, they have not taken any action against Hope Solo for her domestic violence charges. Why is this? Simple, just as Rich Nichols was implying, her treatment is by virtue of her sex. Sure, he was responding to her pathetic six month suspension for saying mean words, but it stands true for the DV charges. Josh Brown receives a suspension yet Hope Solo gets nothing!? Where’s the equality?

Maybe I should quickly insert into here a little thought of mine, before I give my final paragraph. My thought is that the lack of ban for Hope Solo’s DV charge is the correct action – I say this because if the violence/altercation happens outside of the workplace and does not involve the employer then why is it the employer’s responsibility to oversee punishment to its staff? The incident happened off-site and should be treated as such. This also stands for Ray Rice, Josh Brown, all the others. Should they however punch out their spouses in work or somehow involve their employer then yes, the employer should get involved, but otherwise leave it alone.

So, to conclude, I with Matt Calkins in this, it’s all just a farce. There’s evidence of gender disparity in the pseudo-justice system of the NFL, outrage over a lack of action for domestic abuse from Hope Solo, then outrage over a bizarre suspension that has no effect because she said mean words. The suspension is a silly excuse to appear like they’re taking a stand but really it’s just a joke. Hope Solo, according to NFL standards, should have been suspended the first time she decided to bloody her fists but I guess we’ll just have to wait until she goes in for round two. Cue the inevitable controversy when the NFL yet again lets her off the hook – should we take bets?

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s