On Aug. 24 the United States women’s olympic soccer coach, Jill Ellis delivered the news to goalie, Hope Solo that she would be given a six-month suspension as well as a terminated contract. Solo, who is often considered by soccer enthusiasts as one of the best female goalies of all time, faces this punishment in response to remarks made during the quarter finals of the Rio Olympics.
Solo called the competing Swedish team “A bunch of cowards.” Not long after, Solo was terminated from her soccer contract.
It is no secret that Solo isn’t a stranger to the negative limelight. According to ESPN, in June of 2014 Solo was arrested on two counts of domestic violence and preceded to resist arrest. On the other hand, Solo, although a controversial character, also has been known as a crusader for women’s equal rights in sports. She has been one of the leading advocates in United States Soccer for fighting for equal pay for men and women. This, unfortunately goes unmentioned in the media. Regardless of her efforts for equality, violence in any form should not be condoned in professional sports. But if punishment is going to be dealt out shouldn’t it be fair?
Many argue that Solo wasn’t released for her unsportsmanlike slurs, but instead her previous rap sheet. Although Solo’s release was not necessarily deserved, it leaves many to wonder if a male did the same, would he be faced with equal punishment?
This list is endless of male professional athletes who have committed heinous crimes and have been dismissed with basically a smack on the wrist.
Atlanta Falcons star, Michael Vick was guilty of running a dog fighting/gambling ring that was responsible for the death of many animals. Vick, found guilty, received a minimal sentence and returned to football shortly after only to sign a contract with the Philadelphia Eagles for $5.25 million in 2010.
Soccer player Christiano Ronaldo is considered to be the best football player in the world by many, but he also is known to have very poor sportsmanship. One of the more famous instances was when Ronaldo referred to Iceland players as playing with “small mentality.” Later in the same game, Ronaldo refused to engage in a shirt exchange initiated by Iceland captain, Aron Gunnarsson, showing a lack of remorse in his poor sportsmanship. Other than poor media coverage, Ronaldo received no punishment for this.
In recent news, fellow olympic athlete, swimmer Ryan Lochte, claimed he and three other teammates were robbed at gunpoint in Rio. The story ended up being one fabricated by Lochte and was debunked by police authorities. Despite the fabricated story, Lochte will face no repercussions. This is coming from the same higher up institution that punished Solo.
Let’s not all forget NBA player Kobe Bryant who was convicted of rape in 2003 and then went on to still have a contract making millions of dollars.
There is definitely the argument that the history of misogyny in athletics is present. From the unequal pay between male and female athletes to a potential unequal punishment between the genders.
Hope Solo has yet to apologize for her actions and continues to claim instead she commented, “My entire career, I have only wanted the best for this team, for the players and the women’s game,” (Fortune). Although some of these accounts are surrounded by different circumstances the fact of the matter is Solo most likely received a harsher punishment than a male would have.
Ali Schultz studies journalism. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.