Hope Solo, a former member of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, made headlines this morning when she accused her teammate Megan Rapinoe of bullying other players on the team into kneeling during the national anthem in protest.
Quickly after her comments were made public, however, it was unearthed on social media that Solo had left the team weeks before football player Colin Kaepernick was first reported kneeling in protest, let alone Rapinoe and her teammates.
Appearing on All of Us: The U.S. Women’s Soccer Show, a podcast discussing the women’s soccer team as they went for gold in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Hope Solo commented that she had seen Megan Rapinoe, “almost bully players into kneeling because she really wants to stand up for something in her particular way.”
“It’s our right as Americans to do it in whatever way we’re comfortable with,” Solo continued. “Right now what I’ve seen is there’s been so much debate about the kneeling, about the not kneeling.”
“I know most people stand against discrimination,” she said, “but I think the kneeling thing can be very divisive.”
Solo’s comments about Rapinoe later sent the Internet ablaze, with some saying her statement was “debunked” after it was discovered that she left the team before Rapinoe started kneeling in protest.
Craig Welsch, a senior staff writer at National Geographic, wrote on Twitter that, “Seattle soccer fans may recall that Megan Rapinoe took a knee in solidarity w/ Colin Kaepernick for the first time in September 2016.”
“By then, Hope Solo had already left both the USWNT and the Seattle Reign,” Welsch continued. “They were no longer teammates.”
Timothy Burke, a former Deadspin writer, called Solo’s comments, “a completely fabricated story.”
“Hope Solo’s last appearance was at the 2016 Rio Olympics, two weeks before Megan Rapinoe joined Colin Kaepernick in kneeling for the anthem,” Burke recalled, “and Rapinoe did so alone; none of her teammates joined her.”
On August 24, 2016, Hope Solo’s contract was terminated by U.S. Soccer, citing “conduct that is counter to the organization’s principles.” It was two days later that Colin Kaepernick was first reported as having sat in protest during the national anthem, and a week after that on September 1, when he first knelt. Megan Rapinoe and her team followed Kaepernick and knelt swiftly after throughout their games in September.
After the U.S. Soccer team was eliminated by Sweden in the 2016 Rio Olympics, Hope Solo had called Sweden “a bunch of cowards,” which is what led to her termination. Rapinoe, at the time, had said that she was “Really disappointed, to be honest” with Solo’s remarks.
“It’s frustrating sometimes as an athlete – you’re thrust into the spotlight and I think this team has always done a really amazing job of understanding that we have this incredible platform,” Solo said back in 2016. “Let’s do something good with it. Let’s inspire, let’s be badass, let’s be fierce, let’s be competitive. But, we’re gracious and we’re humble and we play the game a certain way, whether we win or lose.”
It’s entirely possible that Solo could have heard complaints from someone still on the team after he departure, but it was also widely reported that most of the team had not remained in contact with her following her bad sportsmanship at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
After the 2016 incident, U.S. Soccer captain Carli Lloyd published her memoir recalling how Solo became an “instant pariah” after her comments. “I feel like I’m being pushed out,” Solo told Sports Illustrated at the time. “I think I’m just a thorn in their side and it’s time for them to cut their losses.”
Recently, the world of sports had moved on from debating the purpose of anthem protests, and had turned their attention toward Tennis star Naomi Osaka and U.S. Gymnast Simone Biles as they discussed the lack of mental health training available to athletes.
Megan Rapinoe has yet to comment on Hope Solo’s recent accusations. Neither has any current members] of the U.S. Women’s Soccer team about their decision to kneel in wake of Solo’s remarks.