...and here’s RTE’s best Hope for Irish World Cup glory
IT’S no secret that RTÉ’s tired male-dominated punditry team needed spicing up. But station bosses are hoping they haven’t bitten off more than they can chew with the arrival of glamorous US soccer star Hope Solo to their World Cup panel. Montrose insiders leaked this weekend that the station had beaten off broadcasters including the BBC, to secure the 36-year-old’s services in joining.
They’re now hoping they can keep the former World Cup star in line during the four-week tournament which kicks off in Russia on Thursday.
Solo was notably absent from RTÉ’s photocall to launch its World Cup coverage this week. And the details of what games she will be covering and when she will be in Ireland are apparently still being ironed out.
But RTÉ lawyers will be hoping she can keep her propensity for attracting trouble in check. In 2010, Hope’s comments about ‘crooked referees’ in the US leagues, earned her a $2,500 fine and a 30-day suspension.
As it turned out, this was at the milder end of the scale in a whole catalogue of misdemeanours notched up during her career.
‘It’s a great coup for us,’ an RTÉ producer told the MoS. ‘But on the other hand, she seems to cause trouble wherever she goes. We want some trouble but not a lot.’
Hope is one of the biggest names in women’s football, having won two Olympic medals and a World Cup in her 16 years with the US team. But she has been in the news as much for her off-the-pitch antics.
During the 2012 Olympic Games, Hope, who played with the US women’s team in London, raised eyebrows by claiming that there was a culture of sex and drinking in the Olympic
Village. She told ESPN magazine: ‘I’ve seen people having sex right out in the open. On the grass, between buildings, people are getting down and dirty.’
In June 2014 she was arrested for allegedly beating up her half-sister and nephew while drunk. The case was eventually dropped. There were more headlines that year when the footballer was the victim of hackers who stole some of her personal photos and posted them online.
In 2015, she was suspended from the US national team after her husband, American football player Jerramy Stevens, was stopped for drink driving. The car he was driving, and in which Solo was a passenger, was on loan from US Soccer. She was dropped for 30 days. In 2016, her playing career ended.
She may no longer play but she continues to generate controversy. This week she sparked outrage in US football when she said the country was not fit to host the 2026 World Cup finals
Ahead of next week’s vote on who will be awarded the tournament, Hope said: ‘I can’t say it should be awarded to Morocco but I don’t think it should go to the United States, and that’s hard to say.’
Reacting to her remarks, one US commentator said drily that even when Hope makes some sense, many tune out simply because it is her who is doing the talking. Somehow, it seems unlikely that Irish TV viewers will be tuning out.
New sigNiNg: US soccer star Hope Solo will join Dunphy et al at RTÉ
stalwarts: Darragh Maloney with Damien Duff, Didi Hamann and Richie Sadlier