Why Did Hope Solo Retire?


(Image via New York Post)

Paige Everson, Writer

There is a misconception that Hope Solo retired after the 2016 Olympics. The reality, however, is that she got fired. Solo got fired following the 2016 Olympics in Brazil was a direct result of critical comments Solo made. It happened after the United States got eliminated by Sweden in the quarterfinals of the Rio Olympics on August 12. She called the Swedish team “a bunch of cowards” for taking a defensive stance after losing in a penalty-kick shootout. The “best team” had not won, Solo said. The comments went viral in minutes and got widely criticized as unsportsmanlike.

U.S. Soccer suspended Solo for six months in response to the harsh comments she made. More significantly, the federation terminated her contract with the national team, sending a clear message that her days tending goal, at least for the Americans, is over. 

Solo, in a statement released by her publicist, said she was “saddened” by U.S. Soccer’s decision to terminate her contract. Although Solo states she apologized to Sweden, then-coach Pia Sundhage, and even her teammates, U.S. Soccer suspended Solo and terminated her contract anyway.

“She got fired for making comments that a man would never have been fired for,” Rich Nichols, the general counsel for the women’s national team’s players’ association, said.

Solo has been the starting goalkeeper for the United States since 2005 and its preferred starter in three straight World Cups. She has made more than 200 appearances for the team, and while her play on the field has been exceptional at times, she has caused public relations problems for herself and the U.S. Soccer away from the soccer field many times.

Hope Solo has made many bad decisions throughout her playing career. One of those moments happened in 2014 when she got arrested on charges of assaulting two family members that got later dropped before being reinstated again. Another moment took place in 2015 when she served a 30-day ban after her husband got arrested on drunken-driving charges while he and Solo were in a borrowed team van. At the 2012 Olympics, she took to Twitter to publicly criticize the former player Brandi Chastain, who was calling the team’s games for NBC.

Solo’s attitude outside the game was just as bad as her attitude inside the game. In 2007 during the World Cup in China, Solo went after the coach of the American team, Greg Ryan, for benching her in a semifinal game against Brazil, in which the United States lost 4-0. So If Hope Solo can not be under control on or off the field, then it seemed to be the obvious choice to get rid of her.

But with no American goalkeeper playing well enough to replace Solo as the starter, her coaches and U.S. Soccer continued to send her back into the net.

The criticism of Ryan and, by extension, Briana Scurry, who had replaced Solo, led to Solo’s first public discipline from the national team. She was ostracized by her teammates, who refused to eat with her or even fly home with her.

Hope Solo was considered a phenomenal goalkeeper and still will be. If Solo never plays another game for the national team, she is perceived as one of U.S. Soccer’s most decorated players.