Whatever happened to Hope Solo

Hope Solo will go down as one of the most dominant players in U.S. women's soccer. With two Olympic gold medals, one World Cup title, two World Cup Golden Glove awards and a staggering 102 shutouts in 202 games, the legendary goalkeeper's record and unquestionable talent might never be duplicated.

Off the field, however, is a different story. While her desire to speak her mind regardless of consequences earned her a few more fans, it (combined with highly-publicized legal troubles) rubbed others, and many inside the soccer establishment the wrong way. A vocal and staunch advocate for equal pay during her career, her playing days came to an abrupt end in 2016 when she called the Swedish team "cowards" following America's quarterfinal upset in the 2016 Olympics. Six days later, Solo ended her career with the Seattle Reign. She hasn't played professional soccer since.

So what is she up to now? If you guessed "still speaking her mind," you'd be right. Let's hit the pitch to find out whatever happened to Hope Solo.

Her relationship has recovered

Hope Solo's relationship with former NFL tight end Jerramy Stevens got off to a rocky start. On Nov. 12, 2012, police in Kirkland, Washington arrested Stevens for allegedly assaulting and injuring Solo during a house party. The very next day, a judge dropped all charges, and the couple tied the knot, but more trouble followed.  

On June 21, 2014, Solo was arrested and charged with domestic violence after authorities alleged an intoxicated Solo assaulted her half-sister and nephew in her home. A judge dismissed the charges after Solo's lawyers claimed she used "used lawful force" in defending herself against her much larger nephew, but prosecutors appealed that decision, and the charges were reinstated in 2016. On May 24, 2018, all charges were dropped for good. 

On May 8, 2015, Stevens received 30 days in jail after a January DUI arrest in which Stevens was driving a U.S. soccer van with Solo as a passenger. Solo was suspended 30 days by U.S. Soccer as a result.

Since then, however, it appears to be smooth sailing. The pair relocated from Washington to North Carolina where they live a lowkey life on 60 acres of farmland. In a 2017 interview with Ville Magazine (via SB Nation), Solo admitted the couple wanted to get away from the media spotlight and focus on healthy lifestyle changes.

She's still fighting for equality in soccer

Following her suspension from U.S. Soccer and the termination of her contract in 2016, Hope Solo claimed in the documentary Keeping Score (via Fox Sports) that the decision wasn't based on her comments or actions, but due to her "fighting so hard for equal pay." She added, "They're going to use my comments as an excuse to get rid of me forever so that they don't have to deal with such a strong voice and opposition to field conditions and playing conditions and pay. I think I'm just a thorn in their side and it's time for them to cut their losses."

Solo and other high-profile players filed a complaint to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that same year, but Solo was the only one to take an outspoken stance. She hasn't stopped. "I'd welcome more players to stand up and speak out, but unfortunately there's pressure," she said at the Foundation for Sports Integrity launch in 2018 (via ESPN). "You can see what happened in my case where I fought for equal pay."

She also partnered with Street Soccer USA, a non-profit organization that seeks "to fight poverty and empower underserved communities through soccer." In her role as a diversity ambassador, Solo pushes for more female representation in the coaching ranks. But she knows she can't achieve that goal alone. "In order to gain true equality, you can't just have women fighting for equality," Solo said (via New York's ABC7). "We need men and women alike."

She wrote an op-ed calling U.S. Soccer 'broken'

In a 2018 op-ed for The Guardian, Solo blasted the U.S. women's soccer team stating that "something is broken" as the team is made up almost entirely of "the white girls next door." Claiming that "barely more than a dozen female players of color have represented the United States at the highest level since 1991," Solo urged that soccer's scouting system needs a complete overhaul to have a bigger presence in underserved communities.

"In my experience, scouts and coaches typically focus on the suburbs of big cities — usually where there is an MLS team — and wait for kids to come to them," she wrote. "That's a reason you see a majority of white, upper middle-class kids when you look at club teams, youth development academies, and Olympic development programs across America. There are some great kids in those programs but it is not the only way to find talent."

Solo also addressed the lack of diversity in the men's game, claiming that basketball's scouting doesn't have this problem. "Imagine if the next LeBron James played soccer," she wrote. "But I don't think we're even looking for players in places like Akron, Ohio. That needs to change." She suggested that the U.S. Soccer Federation, a non-profit organization sitting on more than $100 million in surplus funds, should invest that money in those communities to find talent. "Silence never changed the world. It takes bold action and the voices of many," she concluded.

She ran for president of the USSF

Despite being suspended from the game, Solo ran to be in charge of it according to the New York Times. Joining a field of nine candidates, Solo's platform included pushing "equal pay for the women's national team and all women within U.S. Soccer," improving access and equality in all youth levels, and "stress transparency within the federation."

She made the 1,600-word the announcement on her official Facebook page where she laid out her plan which, of course, called out the lack of opportunities in soccer for poor kids. "Soccer has always been a middle-class sport and in more recent times, has become an upper-middle-class sport," Solo wrote. "Some of the best clubs around the country charge each youth player between $3,000-$5,000 per-season. I have personally witnessed young players heartbroken over the financial reality that they could no longer pursue their dream." She concluded her pitch: "I know exactly what U.S. Soccer needs to do, I know exactly how to do it, and I possess the fortitude to get it done."

Establishment candidate Carlos Cordeiro went on to win the 2018 election, and Solo had some harsh words. "For 10 years, Carlos Cordeiro was in a position to create change, and he did nothing," she said (via Sports Illustrated). On Mar. 2019, "twenty-eight members of the U.S. national women's soccer team filed a federal gender discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation" (via USA Today).

Hollywood called

Joining the ranks of sports superstars like Muhammad Ali, Babe Ruth, and Steve Prefontaine, Hope Solo's life is set to receive the Hollywood biopic treatment. Deadline reports that Argent Pictures optioned her life story rights, with future NFL Hall of Famer Drew Brees and San Antonio Spurs legend Tony Parker serving as executive producers. 

"Hope Solo is a force of nature who broke down walls in women's sports, both as a player and as a humanitarian," writer-director Christine Crokos said. "Her story is one of pure trailblazing and fierce athleticism — one that many generations to come will honor and look up to." At the time of this writing, there is no scheduled release date for the film, but everyone involved is ready to get started. 

"We are very excited to be working to bring Hope's life story to the big screen with Christine at the helm, producer Ben Renzo said. "Hope is an amazing athlete, with an intense competitive spirit who has achieved some of the highest accomplishments in women's soccer as a professional goalkeeper. Her journey to becoming an elite athlete and one of the best soccer players at her position is incredibly motivating, and that's what makes this story special to us. We want to make movies that entertain and inspire — and Hope's story encompasses those themes."

Retiring or not retiring?

Solo hasn't played competitive soccer since the 2016 Olympics, but she's not ready to hang up the cleats just yet. "Let's be clear, a goalkeeper peaks a little bit later in their career, so I feel like I have many years ahead of me if that opportunity arises," she told the Associated Press in 2017. "I'm very happy with my career should I walk away from the game today, but I'm not one to retire. I have not retired." Although she and U.S. Soccer aren't on the best of terms, Solo's goal is to play in the 2019 World Cup.

"I'm in the best shape of my life in terms of my shoulder. I feel great," Solo also told the AP (via The Washington Post). "Should [U.S. Soccer] welcome me back, then I will be in the goal competing and hopefully bringing back another World Cup trophy, but it's highly unlikely they are going to ask for me to come back. But I'm here, guys."

"It's hard to retire when you got fired," Solo told the Hashtag Sports Conference in June 108, during which she also reiterated her desire to compete "at the highest level" for another World Cup. "I want to play in World Cups and Olympics," she continued. "If I went back and played club ball, it would be in Europe." While Solo remains confident in a comeback, some publications believe her career is effectively over.

Her replacement has big gloves to fill

Hope Solo's dream of representing America as goalie for the 2019 World Cup didn't come to fruition, as that honor now belongs to Alyssa Naeher. Veteran broadcaster J.P. Dellacamera called Naeher a "terrific player," but admitted Solo will be tough to replace. "I think Solo always gave the team an advantage physically," Dellacamera told USA Today). "Opponents knew it's going to be tough to beat Hope Solo on that day. Good as Alyssa Naeher is, until she gets that experience, gets those reps, gets that confidence, she won't have that."

Naeher is well aware of the comparisons, but isn't going to let them affect her. "For me, I think the biggest thing is not getting wrapped up in what other people think, what other people say. At the end of the day, I can only control me, control who I am, the type of player I am, the way that I play and the way that I carry myself," she told the Associated Press in 2019. "That's the great thing about this sport and the position specifically, is that there is no black and white way to go about it. We're all different and we all bring our own personality and uniqueness to the team and to the position."

At the time of this writing, Solo has yet to comment on Naeher and the other 22 women of the 2019 World Cup roster.

Her fight for pay equality won't stop

Hope Solo's fight for equal pay in women's soccer has waged for years. On March 31, 2016, Solo, along with fellow stars Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Becky Sauerbrunn, filed a wage discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against the United States Soccer Federation (USSF). According to the The New York Times, male soccer players make "$5,000 for a loss" and as much as " $17,625 for a win against a top opponent," while women players earn "$1,350 for a similar match" only if they win. The U.S. women's national team negotiated a new contract, but at the time of this writing, the EEOC has yet to issue a decision.

In 2018, Solo filed another suit against the USSF in a California federal circuit court, alleging that the organization violated the Equal Pay Act. Approximately seven months later, 28 members of the U.S. WNT filed a similar suit in a different California circuit court. As of this writing, both lawsuits are currently pending, and the USSF is seeking to consolidate them.

"It was clear that U.S. Soccer was never going to acquiesce or negotiate to provide us equal pay or agree to treat us fairly,” Solo said (via Sports Illustrated). ”The filing by the entire United States women's national team demonstrated that they no longer fear the federation by forcefully and publicly acknowledging U.S. Soccer's violations of the Equal Pay Act and Title VII.” Let the fight continue.