U.S. Soccer president defends Hope Solo investigation in reply to senator
U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati defended the federation's investigation into domestic violence accusations against goalie Hope Solo in a letter sent to U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal that was released to the media Friday night.
Blumenthal (D-Conn.) had blasted U.S. Soccer in a letter Thursday. Gulati responded by calling suggestions that his organization failed to investigate the accusations against Solo "inaccurate" and detailed the steps the federation took while looking into the matter.
Gulati said U.S. Soccer was able to obtain only a redacted, 26-page version of the 52-page police report on the incident involving Solo, her half-sister and her half-sister's son in June 2014 in Kirkland, Washington. He noted that the media appeared to have obtained a supplemental police report and testimony sealed by the court that the federation did not have access to.
In addition to obtaining the police report, Gulati said, U.S. Soccer interviewed Solo, who "quite vehemently" cited self-defense in the incident, which led to her arrest.
However, Gulati acknowledged that U.S. Soccer chose not to interview the alleged victims. He explained that federation officials made that decision based on inconsistencies in their statements to police and officials' understanding that the accusers "would likely contradict Ms. Solo's version of events with equal vehemence." He described it as a "he said, she said" situation.
He also addressed U.S. Soccer's lack of action against Solo following the investigation. He said the federation, based on the advice of legal counsel, was waiting for the resolution of the criminal charges against Solo before issuing any discipline. Although the charges were dismissed in January, the prosecutor is appealing. Gulati said the federation is waiting for a final decision in the matter before taking any action. In the meantime, Solo is in goal for the U.S. in the Women's World Cup, helping the Americans to an opening win Monday against Australia and a 0-0 draw against Sweden on Friday night.
"Under the applicable statutes, bylaws, regulations and agreements, the Federation could not then and cannot now simply prevent an otherwise qualified athlete from participating in an international competition like the Women's World Cup," Gulati said. "Among other things, before denying an athlete the opportunity participate in such competitions an athlete like Ms. Solo would be entitled to a fair hearing process including notice of the charges and the right to call and confront witnesses as well as, in certain circumstances, the right to an appeal process."
In addition, the U.S. Soccer investigation into Solo is continuing after reports about her post-arrest conduct, he said.
Outside The Lines, with new court documents and an interview with Solo's half-sister Teresa Obert, took an in-depth look into Solo's actions that led to her arrest after an altercation with Obert and Solo's teenage nephew.
Police said Solo was belligerent and insulting toward officers during her arrest, and had been drinking.
Gulati said U.S. Soccer has recently adopted a more formalized process for investigations.
"Rest assured that the Federation considers domestic and family violence a very serious matter," he said.