U.S team says Solo story isn’t an is­sue

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Kevin Bax­ter kevin.bax­ter@la­times.com

WIN­NIPEG, Canada — Hope Solo’s coach and team­mates closed ranks around the goal­keeper Sun­day af­ter a pair of ESPN re­ports re­ex­am­ined the events sur­round­ing Solo’s ar­rest last June.

“Hope’s my team­mate,” Abby Wam­bach said. “We are cre­at­ing a bub­ble and we want noth­ing to pen­e­trate that bub­ble right now.”

The U.S. plays its World Cup opener Mon­day against Australia and Wam­bach in­sisted the Solo story wouldn’t be a dis­trac­tion.

“All of our fo­cus is on what we, in­di­vid­u­ally, can do to help our team win games,” said Wam­bach, who had pre­vi­ously clashed with Solo. “That is our fo­cus. And noth­ing else is go­ing to get in the way of that.”

Ac­cord­ing to the ESPN sto­ries, which were based on po­lice records and de­po­si­tions, Solo was com­bat­ive and in­sulted po­lice dur­ing her ar­rest at her half-sis­ter’s house in Kirk­land, Wash.

Solo faced two counts of mis­de­meanor do­mes­tic vi­o­lence be­fore the charges were dropped on pro­ce­dural grounds. Pros­e­cu­tors say they plan to ap­peal a judge’s de­ci­sion to dis­miss the case.

Days af­ter those charges were dropped in Jan­uary, Solo was in a U.S. Soc­cer van when her hus­band, for­mer NFL player Jer­ramy Stevens, was ar­rested on sus­pi­cion of DUI dur­ing the U.S. team’s win­ter train­ing camp in Man­hat­tan Beach. Solo was suspended for a month fol­low­ing that in­ci­dent.

A U.S. Soc­cer spokesman said the fed­er­a­tion would not com­ment on Sun­day’s ESPN re­port.

But Coach Jill El­lis did, back­ing her goalie.

“That was a long time ago,” she said of Solo’s ar­rest. “We’ve moved on. And she’s been a fan­tas­tic player and a team­mate.

“So none of that’s even res­onated with us. And I’m sure many of the play­ers aren’t aware of it.”

Mid­fielder Carli Lloyd, Solo’s room­mate in Canada, said she knew of the story but wasn’t con­cerned about its con­tents. “Hon­estly,” Lloyd said “I didn’t dis­cuss it with her for one sec­ond.” FIFA goes MIA

The of­fi­cial FIFA logo is ev­ery­where at the six World Cup sta­di­ums spread across Canada. But FIFA of­fi­cials? Not so much. Only three mem­bers of FIFA’s ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee where in Ed­mon­ton for the open­ing game of the World Cup on Satur­day in Ed­mon­ton, with the cor­rup­tion scan­dal that has en­gulfed world soc­cer’s gov­ern­ing body keep­ing most of the group’s top brass in Zurich, Switzer­land, where FIFA is head­quar­tered.

Last week a FIFA spokesper­son said Pres­i­dent Sepp Blat­ter planned to at­tend the event, where he tra­di­tion­ally hands out medals to the win­ning and run­ner-up teams.

But that was later amended, with a spokesper­son telling the Canadian Press days later that “the fu­ture travel plans of the FIFA pres­i­dent will be con­firmed in due course.”

Blat­ter’s chief aide, Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Jerome Val­cke, was a no-show at a pre-World Cup news con­fer­ence, over which he was to pre­side. And no FIFA of­fi­cials par­tic­i­pated in Satur­day’s open­ing cer­e­mony.

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