Hope Solo says she was fired by the U.S. women’s national soccer team, and not because she called the Swedish team cowards.
The veteran goalkeeper believes U.S. Soccer wanted her off the collective bargaining agreement negotiations with the national team players.
“Let’s call it what is, which is a firing,” 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.”
Solo was handed a six-month suspension and her contract with U.S. 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 quarter-finals.
Solo is not eligible for reinstatement to the team until February. She said it’s up to the U.S. 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 U.S. Soccer. The current contract expires on Dec. 31.
U.S. Soccer clarified that Solo was suspended following a culmination of actions, and separately her contract was also terminated with the team.
“As we have stated before, Hope was suspended for her cumulative actions over the course of time that reflected negatively on the U.S. Women’s National Team and U.S. Soccer,” the federation said in a statement Thursday night. “Any indication that the suspension was only due to her comment after the Olympics, or because of current CBA negotiations, is completely inaccurate. We had numerous conversations with her in the past about her behavior and it was clear that any additional missteps could result in an additional suspension.”
From CBA to ‘cowards’
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.
“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 paycheque. 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 U.S. 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.