UPDATED 12/9/2017 at 3:30 PM ET
Hope Solo is running for president of US Soccer. Honestly, this is the kind of thing that you just don’t see coming but at the same time once you hear you go “Yeah, of course, that’s something that would happen in this bonkers year.”
“What we have lost in America is belief in our system, in our coaches, in our talent pool, and in the governance of US Soccer. We now must refocus our goals and come together as a soccer community to bring about the changes we desire,” said Solo via her official statement. She also cited her personal experiences with the exorbitant costs of playing elite youth soccer as motivation to reform pay to play and, of course, her experience as a player with two Olympic gold medals and a World Cup to her name.
Her core principles are listed as follows
- Creating a winning culture at USSF
- Equality and women’s issues
- Youth and diversity at all levels
- USSF organizational, operational, and financial governance transparency
These are all pretty standard issues that have come up in some form or another with the rest of the candidates, although Solo will surely have a much deeper perspective on the WNT side of things.
She goes into a little bit of detail in her announcement, which includes building a “home base training facility,” restructuring the executive branch of US Soccer, and increasing inclusion of women within the USSF executive hierarchy. One can assume she’ll flesh out these positions in interviews to come.
Of course, you can’t just say you’re running for USSF president and be a candidate in the voting; you have to gather nominations from a minimum of three organization members or athlete members of the board of directors - but as per Grant Wahl, apparently Solo has the nominations she needs.
Hope Solo's spokesperson says Solo has the 3 official nominations needed by Tuesday to become an official candidate. If so, Solo will be in the race for full 2 months https://t.co/XV5YWSxEuG— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) December 8, 2017
It sounds like Solo has been doing a lot of behind-the-scenes work already in terms of gladhanding and gathering support, and if she does indeed have the nominations (and passes the required background check), then we’ll be getting Campaign Trail Hope Solo until the vote at the Annual General Meeting in early February.
Solo joins Kathy Carter as the second female candidate to run for USSF president in this election. She doesn’t have the same business background as Carter, but she also doesn’t have the same perception of being a puppet for Sunil Gulati or Soccer United Marketing’s financial interests. Solo is pretty much as outsider as it gets after US Soccer rather unceremoniously suspended her from the the USWNT for six months in August of 2016 and then never called her back up to another roster.
Before that, Solo’s reputation with US Soccer fluctuated. She was their heroic #1 goalkeeper when it suited their marketing purposes (for which Solo directly calls out the federation, calling it “the path of capitalism first”), but there was undoubtedly tension based on several incidents, including a previous suspension for 30 days by US Soccer in January of 2015 for getting caught in team van which her husband was arrested for driving under the influence, and an arrest in Kirkland, Seattle in June of 2014 for two misdemeanor counts of assault in the fourth degree for alleged domestic violence against her half-sister and nephew. Those charges were dismissed in January of 2015, but in October of that year the prosecution in the case had the charges reinstated, and as of June 2016 the Washington state appeals court denied her request to have the charges dismissed again.
So now Solo is running for president of US Soccer. She has the true outsider/maverick image going for her, but there will surely be doubts about her ability to manage a burgeoning operation like USSF with limited financial or business experience, her negotiation with the federation over the WNT CBA notwithstanding. And there’s the multiple arrests. So we’ll see if Solo manages to secure a berth as a candidate, even with the required number of nominations. Thanks for yet another swerve, 2017.
UPDATE: Julie Foudy says that Solo does not as of yet have the required nominations. We’ll see if she makes the deadline.