Solo talks on fu­ture, fight for equal pay

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -


Hope Solo says she hopes that some­day she can re­turn to the US women’s na­tional team, but in the mean­time she vows to keep fight­ing for equal pay for the play­ers. Solo was handed a six-month sus­pen­sion and her con­tract with US Soc­cer was ter­mi­nated fol­low­ing the Rio Olympics, af­ter she called Swe­den’s team “cow­ards” for their de­fen­sive style of play against the Amer­i­cans in the quar­ter­fi­nals.

“Let’s be hon­est, it’s not my de­ci­sion if I re­turn to the na­tional team,” she said. “I find it an honor and a priv­i­lege to rep­re­sent our coun­try at the high­est level in a sport that I love, in a po­si­tion that I love. And I would do al­most any­thing to play at that level once again. I say al­most, be­cause at this point in time I believe our fight for equal­ity is much big­ger than being on the na­tional team again.”

Solo is not el­i­gi­ble for re­in­state­ment to the team un­til Fe­bru­ary. She said it’s up to the US Soc­cer Fed­er­a­tion and coach Jill El­lis to al­low her to re­turn. Her com­ments come as the team’s play­ers are ne­go­ti­at­ing a new col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing agree­ment with US Soc­cer. The cur­rent con­tract ex­pires on Dec 31. Solo, a 17-year vet­eran of the team, is closely watch­ing the ne­go­ti­a­tions, which have been on­go­ing this month. In a wide-rang­ing in­ter­view with The As­so­ci­ated Press on Thurs­day, she said she “hopes and prays” play­ers don’t back down.

All the way

“I think many of the play­ers are prepared to go all the way in,” she said. “When we’re sup­posed to have a new CBA by Jan 1, now is the time you can be scared - you can be scared of go­ing on strike, you can be scared of los­ing em­ploy­ment and a pay­check. And I think that I have been used as an ex­am­ple, and my fir­ing in­stilled a lot of fear in the play­ers. And I also know fear is what has held many move­ments back.”

That’s why she’s speak­ing out now - be­cause she can. “There’s no turn­ing back for me,” she said. “I think with some of the player there are dif­fer­ent in­ten­tions - be­cause they want to play the game that they love. It’s eas­ier for me to fight and put ev­ery­thing into it than it is for them.” Solo’s year has been noth­ing if not event­ful.

At the start, Solo and the na­tional team were still bask­ing in their vic­tory at the 2015 Women’s World Cup. Solo al­lowed only three goals in seven games with five shutouts dur­ing the tour­na­ment - earn­ing her a sec­ond straight Golden Glove Award. But with the CBA due to ex­pire, Solo and four of her team­mates filed a com­plaint in late March with the US Equal Em­ploy­ment Op­por­tu­nity Com­mis­sion al­leg­ing wage dis­crim­i­na­tion. The play­ers main­tain they make far less than their male coun­ter­parts for the na­tional team, de­spite out­per­form­ing them on the in­ter­na­tional stage. A de­ci­sion by the EEOC is pend­ing.

On the field, Solo be­came the first goal­keeper with 100 in­ter­na­tional shutouts be­fore the Olympics when the United States de­feated South Africa 1-0 in Chicago. It also was her 150th ca­reer win. Dur­ing the Rio Games she made her 200th ap­pear­ance in goal for the United States, an in­ter­na­tional record. But in the quar­ter­fi­nals the de­fend­ing cham­pion US women were handed their ear­li­est-ever exit from the Olympics when Swe­den ad­vanced 4-3 on penalty kicks fol­low­ing a 1-1 draw.

Off-the-field con­tro­ver­sies

Solo’s in­fa­mous “cow­ards” quote came im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing the loss. Swe­den went on to play in the gold-medal match against Ger­many. Solo said she spoke to El­lis and US Soc­cer Pres­i­dent Su­nil Gu­lati the night of the loss, and felt that the is­sue was put to rest. Af­ter she re­turned to the United States, she said she was blind­sided by the an­nounce­ment about her sus­pen­sion.

She said she be­lieves US Soc­cer wanted her off the CBA ne­go­ti­a­tions. A spokesman for USSF did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment on Thurs­day evening. “Let’s call it what is, which is a fir­ing is,” she said. “It was a ter­mi­na­tion of my con­tract ef­fec­tive im­me­di­ately with sev­er­ance. That is a fir­ing. It wasn’t a sus­pen­sion, that’s what they told the media be­cause it looked better. But I got fired. I got fired for what they say was us­ing the word ‘cow­ards’ but in real­ity they got rid of an ad­ver­sary in the fight for equal pay.”

US Soc­cer said at the time the ac­tion was taken af­ter a cul­mi­na­tion of events. Solo has at times dur­ing her ca­reer been dogged by off-the-field con­tro­ver­sies. Notably, a do­mes­tic vi­o­lence case stem­ming from a 2014 al­ter­ca­tion at a fam­ily mem­ber’s home in Wash­ing­ton state. The case is still pend­ing and she can­not com­ment on the mat­ter. — AP

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