Last week, U.S. Soccer suspended Hope Solo from competing with the U.S. women's national team for six months and terminated her contract. The goalie was punished for calling the Sweden's national team "a bunch of cowards" after it bounced the U.S. women from the Olympics. U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati also indicated that Solo's punishment took into account "past incidents" involving the goalie, likely hinting at her June 2014 domestic violence arrest.
Here's a quick Q&A answering lingering questions about Solo's options for getting back in the game and an update on her ongoing legal issues.
Could Solo challenge U.S. Soccer's decision to suspend her?
The USWNT Players Association (PA) said it plans to file an appeal on Solo's behalf. If it appeals Solo's punishment, the PA must follow the grievance procedures outlined in the 2005 collective bargaining agreement between the USWNT and U.S. Soccer.
According to Article 5 of the CBA, the PA would have 60 days to file a grievance with U.S. Soccer (Oct. 23) stating the reasons it believes Solo's punishment is unjust. Within 10 days, U.S. Soccer must respond to those reasons. If the two sides can't resolve the dispute within seven days after that, the matter goes to a grievance committee.
A grievance committee would consist of a representative chosen by each side who would work together to try to encourage settlement. Within 20 days, the committee would hold a hearing that would involve the PA (including Solo) and U.S. Soccer presenting their cases. If the two sides can't reach a settlement within seven days after the hearing, either side has 15 days to ask that an impartial arbitrator decide the matter.
At any time during the grievance process, the PA or U.S. Soccer may ask an arbitrator to resolve the matter on an expedited basis.
Did U.S. Soccer violate Solo's First Amendment right to free speech by punishing her for her comments about the Swedish soccer team?
U.S. Soccer likely didn't violate Solo's constitutional right to free speech because that right only applies when the government is trying to restrict free speech and U.S. Soccer isn't a government actor. The First Amendment right to free speech protects the people from the government restricting speech. It doesn't apply when a private party wants to restrict speech.
The United States Soccer Federation is the official governing body for soccer in the United States and Congress did contribute to its formation. But U.S. Soccer still remains a private entity, separate from the federal and any state government. In fact, many federal courts have held that national governing bodies for sports are not government actors. Given that, it is unlikely Solo's First Amendment free speech rights were violated.
If Solo's contract was terminated, how does that impact whether she'll play?
Solo announced that she's choosing not to play with the Seattle Reign FC for the rest of the season. But if she wanted to, Solo could continue to play in the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) through the end of the season even though U.S. Soccer terminated her contract.
In March 2013, the USWNT and U.S. Soccer signed an agreement that addressed the terms of employment for players who are on the national team and in the NWSL. The document is called a memorandum of understanding and, among other things, it explains what happens if U.S. Soccer releases a player from her USWNT contract.
The March 2013 memorandum of understanding says, "if a WNT player is released from her WNT contract, she remains on her contract with the NWSL, for the remainder of the year." This means, even though her USWNT contract was terminated, Solo can continue to play for the Settle Reign FC through the end of this season. If she wanted to play for NWSL after that point, Solo would have to make a new agreement with the specific team.
What's going on with Solo's domestic violence case from her June 2014 arrest?
The star goalie was facing two counts of fourth degree domestic violence in Washington for an incident in June 2014 involving her half-sister and then 17-year-old nephew. Solo has maintained that she was the victim in the situation.
In January 2015, a judge dismissed the charges against Solo because her half-sister and nephew were said to be uncooperative. City prosecutors appealed the decision and an appellate court reinstated the charges.
Solo asked the appellate court to review the decision but her request was denied on June 9. She had 30 days to appeal to the Washington Supreme Court but it doesn't appear she filed an appeal. This means the charges against Solo stand and Washington prosecutors should be moving the case forward.
How does U.S. Soccer punishing Solo and terminating her contract impact her equal pay claim?
This punishment likely won't impact Solo and her former teammates' equal pay claim.
In March, Solo and four other USWNT players filed an equal pay claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging U.S. Soccer violated federal laws by paying players on the men's national soccer team more than those on the U.S. women's team. The EEOC is in the preliminary stages of investigating the USWNT players' claim. If the players were to win, they could get back pay, equal pay, better pay, maybe more. Solo would still be awarded money if that were to happen.
Adrienne Lawrence is a legal analyst who practiced law from 2008 to 2015 before joining ESPN in August 2015. Follow her on Twitter @AdrienneESPN.