Citing Unresolved Domestic Violence Charges, Blumenthal Urges U.S. Soccer to Conduct Investigation into Hope Solo Incidents

“Domestic Violence Is Unacceptable Particularly For An Athlete Representing The United States of America On The Global Stage.”

U.S. Soccer Has Failed To Adequately Address or Investigate Serious Charges

U.S. Soccer Must Articulate Rationale for Hope Solo’s Continued Position As Starting Goalie for Team USA, In Wake of New Details Unearthed by ESPN

(Washington, D.C) - As the United States Women’s National Soccer Team (WNT) prepares for its second game in this year’s 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) wrote to the U.S. Soccer Federation regarding outstanding domestic violence counts against WNT goalie, Hope Solo, and U.S. Soccer’s failure to take adequate action to investigate and act in response to the charges. In the letter to U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati, Blumenthal cited the evidence that the league made no attempt to contact the victims – Solo’s half-sister and her half-sister’s son – or law enforcement involved with the charges when considering the case and possible penalties against Solo. These actions fail to adequately address the serious nature of these charges and U.S. Soccer should immediately conduct a more fair and thorough investigation, as well as reconsider Solo’s role as an active member of Team USA.

Blumenthal wrote, “Last year, I criticized the NFL for failing to adequately punish domestic violence in the wake of a two-game suspension given to Ray Rice. It is distressing that after so many months of national dialogue on the issue, we find ourselves at square one in the Hope Solo situation. If the Outside the Lines reports are correct, U.S. Soccer’s approach to domestic violence and family violence in this instance is at best superficial and at worst dangerously neglectful and self-serving.

I urge U.S. Soccer to actually conduct a thorough investigation into this incident – an inquiry that includes a comprehensive review of police reports and interviews of the alleged victims. Additionally, in the interim, I urge U.S. Soccer to reconsider Hope Solo’s position as an active member of Team USA. As boys and girls tune in to Friday’s game, watching the women on TV as role models, it sends exactly the wrong message to start Hope Solo at goal.

Domestic violence and family violence are an horrific scourge that happens behind closed doors every day in this country. Regardless of whether the violence is a man striking a woman, a woman striking a man, or same-sex violence, it is unacceptable. Domestic violence is intolerable particularly for an athlete representing the United States of America on the global stage.”

Full letter can be viewed here and below:

Sunil Gulati
President
United States Soccer Federation
1801 S. Prairie Ave.
Chicago, IL 60616

Dear Mr. Gulati,

As the World Cup begins this week and Team USA prepares for its second game on Friday, a cloud hangs over what would otherwise be cause for celebration. According to court documents uncovered by ESPN’s Outside The Lines, even as Team USA goalie Hope Solo publicly claims two domestic violence counts stemming from a June 2014 incident have been dismissed, “prosecutors are scheduled to file their argument by July 13…[and] arguments are scheduled for Sept. 11.”

The details from police reports, sworn witness depositions, and a transcript of a 911 call from that evening, paint a picture all too familiar to those of us who have worked closely with victims of domestic violence and family violence. Alcohol-fueled verbal abuse eventually led to physical violence. One of the victims, Solo’s half-sister, Teresa Obert, described the goalie’s attack first on her then-17-year-old son, before she turned her attention to the half-sister:

“‘She grabbed him by the head and she kept slamming him into the cement over and over again,’ Obert told Outside the Lines. ‘So I came from behind her, and I pulled her over and, you know, to get her off my son. And then, once she got off, she started punching me in the face over and over again.’”

In the wake of this violent incident, U.S. Soccer offered no comment publicly for three months. It finally issued a statement that was purportedly the result of a “deliberate and thoughtful approach” to consider the incident and determine Hope Solo’s status with the team, but it neglected to include an effort to contact the alleged victims. According to ESPN, “Outside the Lines found no evidence that anyone with U.S. Soccer contacted prosecutors or police involved with the case, either. Public records requests made to the Kirkland Police Department do not appear to reflect any attempt by officials with U.S. Soccer to obtain the police reports from the case. [Kirkland Police Department Public Information Officer Lt. Mike] Murray told Outside the Lines he was not aware of anyone from U.S. Soccer contacting the Kirkland police for information about the case.”

Last year, I criticized the NFL for failing to adequately punish domestic violence in the wake of a two-game suspension given to Ray Rice. It is distressing that after so many months of national dialogue on the issue, we find ourselves at square one in the Hope Solo situation. If the Outside the Lines reports are correct, U.S. Soccer’s approach to domestic violence and family violence in this instance is at best superficial and at worst dangerously neglectful and self-serving.

I urge U.S. Soccer to conduct a thorough investigation into this incident – an inquiry that includes a comprehensive review of police reports and interviews of the alleged victims. In the interim, U.S. Soccer should at least articulate an explanation for Hope Solo’s position as an active member of Team USA. As boys and girls tune in to Friday’s game, watching the women on TV as role models, what is the message of starting Hope Solo at goal?

Domestic violence and family violence are an horrific scourge that happens behind closed doors every day in this country. Regardless of whether the violence is a man striking a woman, a woman striking a man, or same-sex violence, it is unacceptable. Domestic violence is intolerable particularly for an athlete representing the United States of America on the global stage.

Soccer today faces huge challenges as the FIFA scandal unfolds. Hope Solo continuing to play goalie for Team USA, just months before she will appear in court to face domestic violence charges, raises troubling questions about the state of the game.


Sincerely,

Richard Blumenthal
United States Senate