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Hope Solo is running for president of the U.S. Soccer Federation, the organization that effectively fired her for comments she made at the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Solo made the announcement on her official Facebook page on Thursday night where she laid out a 1,600-word plan to fix a U.S. soccer development system that she wrote “has been set up to discriminate and to overlook the disadvantaged.”
Solo, arguably the best goalie in U.S. women’s national team history, cited the financial toll soccer took on her parents in order for her to advance in the sport.
“The systemic problem in U.S. Soccer starts at the youth level,” Solo wrote. “Soccer has always been a middle-class sport and in more recent times, has become an upper-middle-class sport. 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.”
Solo, 36, joins an already crowded field in the wake of the U.S. men’s national soccer team’s inability to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
“The time for talking is over,” Solo wrote. “…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.”
Sunil Gulati announced earlier this week that he would not seek a fourth term. The deadline to register as a candidate is Tuesday and and the election is scheduled to take place in February. Three former members of the men’s national team — Eric Wynalda, Paul Caligiuri, and Kyle Martinoric — are among at least eight others that have announced their respective candidacies.
Solo was suspended and had her national team contract terminated by U.S. Soccer in August 2016, days after she called Sweden “a bunch of cowards” after Team USA’s quarterfinal loss at the Rio Games. That ended her run with the national team she led to the 2015 World Cup title and two Olympic gold medals.
It was the second time Solo was suspended by U.S. Soccer. She was banned for a month in 2015 after police in Manhattan Beach (Calif.) stopped a U.S. Soccer Federation van and arrested her husband, former NFL tight end Jerramy Stevens, on suspicion of driving under the influence. Solo, a passenger in the van, wasn’t charged.
Solo is the second female candidate in the race. Earlier this week, Soccer United Marketing President Kathy Carter announced she was running.
Solo and four other U.S. women’s national team players filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that sought age equality with their male colleagues in April 2016. She made it clear in her Facebook post that equal treatment of men’s and women’s teams at all levels would be a major part of her platform.
“This historical, immoral and unconscionable USSF conduct comes at an unacceptable cost: the cost of national pride, the cost of not qualifying for a Men’s World Cup, the cost of not providing the USWNT equal pay and telling the women on the USWNT that they do not deserve to be paid what the men get paid, the cost of actively engaging in gender discrimination, and most glaringly, the cost of overlooking talented young players from diverse socio-economic communities who, if given the opportunity to participate in the system, would develop an enormous, great pool of talent that could eventually populate our USWNT and USMNT’s and lead them to greatness,” Solo wrote.
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