Hope Solo released a blog post through Dick’s Sporting Goods “Good Sports” site discussing the ongoing collective bargaining agreement negotiations between the US women’s national team and US Soccer.
In her post, she directly calls out USSF and president Sunil Gulati:
Federation President Sunil Gulati and U.S. Soccer are putting pressure on the players. I know that’s happening. I’ve seen many different CBA negotiations during my time on the team, and the federation’s approach has not changed one bit. Their strategy is to instill fear in the players—to divide and conquer us. I had a great relationship with Sunil, to be honest, and he would reach out to me often. But he’s also good at what he does, and he tries to get close to the players to smooth them over.
Solo also says that Gulati and USSF have intimidated the players before when they voted to strike.
You might remember that Solo was suspended for six months by the federation after the Olympics for a host of offenses that culminated in an ungracious statement about their Olympic quarterfinal opponents, Sweden. That suspension and the likely prospect of it being permanent seem to have emboldened Solo to speak much more freely on the federation and the team’s pay negotiations, although Carli Lloyd did flat out say on 60 Minutes that US Soccer doesn’t care about the WNT as much as the MNT.
Still, Solo has much less to lose than Lloyd since she’s already off the team for the forseeable future. She already told the Associated Press that the suspension was effectively a firing by US Soccer. Solo said “...in reality they got rid of an adversary in the fight for equal pay."
Solo describes the way USSF would handle the WNT’s budget in the past, giving the team a predetermined number that they could then allocate how they wanted, but without room for negotiation. She also calls out USSF’s unequal marketing efforts around the WNT compared to the MNT, coverage of women’s sports in general, and other federations’ lack of support for their women’s teams, using Colombia as a specific example.
“We are the front-runners and if we can push for change, we can set a precedent that will lead other federations to follow suit,” Solo says of Colombian players not being compensated by their federation.
It’s absolutely plausible that US Soccer wanted to weaken the team before they hit the CBA deadline at the end of 2016. It’s also absolutely plausible that USSF suspended Solo for her own bad actions. Both things can be true at the same time without making Solo’s allegations against USSF any less true. Solo also has every reason to be quiet and keep her head down since she’s said she hopes to return to the WNT once her suspension is over in February of 2017. But perhaps she senses that a return is unlikely, or perhaps she’s simply so fed up she doesn’t care. Either way, Solo’s comments make it seem like CBA negotiations aren’t going smoothly, putting a question mark on how the WNT will go into 2017.