Hope Solo Taunted with ‘Zika’ Chants at 2016 Olympics: U.S. Goalie a Polarizing Figure Heading into Rio Games
U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo secured her record 102nd clean sheet in her team’s Olympic opener on Wednesday, but the crowd on hand for the 2-0 victory over New Zealand didn’t exactly shower her with praise.
Solo was reportedly booed by the crowd in Belo Horizonte almost every time she touched the ball, and she was taunted with chants of “Zika.”
The chants presumably stem from Solo’s social media posts in July showing her preparations for Brazil amid the Zika outbreak. In one photo she had laid out a variety of insect repellents on a bed; in another she wore a hat with a mosquito net covering her head and neck.
The posts drew backlash from Brazilians who view them as a slight. Solo, who told Sports Illustrated over the winter she was considering skipping the Games over the Zika threat, said the day before the Olympic opener that she “(felt) a little bit bad” about the posts, blaming the media for being “really tough on the people of Brazil” and giving her a sensationalized impression of the risks.
Solo said she didn’t hear the “Zika” taunt but when told about them after the game said she was “glad the fans had fun, and if they had fun at my expense, more power to them.”
This wasn’t the first time Solo has faced criticism. The veteran goalkeeper — one of the game’s best — has long been a polarizing figure.
Solo has been criticized for showboating; loved and hated for her outspokenness. She relished being known as “that loudmouth goalkeeper.” She took heat — from her teammates and others — for criticizing her coach’s decision to bench her in favour of Brianna Scurry for the 2007 World Cup semifinals, which the U.S. lost.
The off-field news surrounding Solo took a darker turn in 2012 when her fiancé Jerramy Stevens, now her husband, was arrested on investigation of assault after an altercation in which Solo was injured. Stevens was released because of insufficient evidence.
Two years later, Solo was arrested and charged with assault against her half-sister and nephew. She maintained that her nephew was the aggressor and that she was just defending herself; her nephew said in a sworn deposition that Solo lunged at him first.