The U.S. Women’s National soccer team is the heavy favorite to repeat as champions in this year’s World Cup in France, but it’s off to a controversial start. The team faces backlash from soccer fans around the world for celebrating each goal in the 13-0 win over Thailand this week.
In an interview with “CBS This Morning,” former member Hope Solo says she understands the criticism, and that she found the “planned” aspect of the celebrations “unnecessary.”
“I am no stranger to controversy, but let me tell you: I am a proponent of respecting my opponents, and I always have been,” Solo said, referencing her 2016 suspension for calling Sweden’s Olympic team a “bunch of cowards.” “Obviously, I’ve made some comments in the past out of poor sportsmanship, but I truly believe that we have to show so much class, especially coming from the number one team in the world […]” she added. “I think it was unnecessary to have planned-out goal celebrations.”
“My favorite goal celebrations are the ones that come naturally, because you really see the passion from the player,” the goalkeeper and three time Olympian said. “What I thought was so classy was after the end of the game, [forward] Carli Lloyd went up to the Thailand goalkeeper, and she put her arm around her and walked her off the field. That’s the kind of class I want to see from the United States.”
Solo believes that the men’s team likely would have received the same pushback.
“I think that’s how we grow the game. We have to be criticized,” she said. “There’s this ongoing debate now in England about ‘how do we push the women’s game forward?’ Well, we have to be willing to take criticism as women athletes and women footballers because ultimately the men take criticism as well.”
“We are at a moment where you’re advocating for equal pay for women in the realm of soccer, the women’s national team is doing the same,” said “CBS This Morning” co-host Tony Dokoupil. “If the celebrations are about fan engagement, isn’t it counterproductive to say ‘hey, drop that down a few notches?'”
“I don’t think it’s counterproductive,” Solo said. “Because like I said, we can celebrate goals. America loves winning, and we certainly put on quite the show the other night. It was a comprehensive performance, it was a beautiful performance by the United States, but I still think we can still celebrate those goals and the fans can enjoy the game without having the choreographed celebrations.”
When asked if the celebrations weren’t just “heat of the moment” reactions, Solo said that “there’s a time and place for the choreographed celebration, and there’s a time and place for just, the natural, whatever happens after a goal. The natural aspect of sport. And I think that’s what I want to see more of.”
Despite her criticism of the team, Solo has high hopes for their upcoming match against Chile.
“I think that they have a lot of momentum right now,” she said. “They’re playing with so much confidence … I want to see the United States defense get tested. Because ultimately, they haven’t been tested yet — and to win this tournament, it has to be a complete team performance, but we have not seen how our United States defense and goalkeeper will perform under pressure.”
“But ultimately I know that the United States are going to do what they do best, and they’re gonna score goals,” she added. “And ultimately, they will come out on top on this second game, as well.”
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