U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati responded to a recent letter from Connecticut senator Richard Blumenthal that urged the U.S. Soccer Federation to investigate claims of domestic violence made against U.S. women's national soccer team goalie Hope Solo.
An Outside The Lines report published on June 7 cited previously unread police reports and sworn depositions and painted a stark picture of a violent, aggressive Solo as characterized by the victims. Solo's half-sister Teresa Obert told ESPN neither she nor her son was contacted by U.S. Soccer in the wake of the incident.
Solo was charged with two counts of fourth-degree domestic violence assault for allegedly striking her half-sister and nephew in Richland, Wash., but a judge dismissed the charges in January saying that a lack of cooperation from witnesses prejudiced the case.
In an open letter to Gulati, Blumenthal called on the organization to “reconsider” Solo's position as a member of the team and said if the OTL report is correct, “U.S. Soccer’s approach to domestic violence and family violence in this instance is at best superficial and at worst dangerously neglectful and self-serving.”
In his response to Blumenthal, Gulati defended the USSF's decision to play Solo in the 2015 Women's World Cup and wrote that “the suggestion by certain media outlets that the Federation failed to investigate the initial allegations is inaccurate.” From Gulati's letter, which was obtained by The Equalizer:
Following the June 2014 incident, the Federation sought to gain access to the police report, witness statements and other associated materials. But, as a consequence of the Washington Criminal Records Privacy Act, we were advised by the Kirkland Police Department that they could not provide such materials directly but that we could request materials through a public records act request. We made such a request and received and reviewed a redacted partial-copy (26 of 52 pages) of the police report.
[We understand from various news reports that certain members of the media may have obtained access to a supplemental police report and certain testimony provided by Ms. Solo’s half-sister and her son. The Federation was not afforded access to such information, and the testimony of the complaining witnesses now being quoted was ordered sealed by the court.]
Blumenthal's letter made reference to the Ray Rice situation in the NFL as he noted that he also criticized the NFL for “failing to adequately punish domestic violence in the wake of a two-game suspension given to Ray Rice.”
Gulati wrote that Blumenthal's reference to Rice is “inapposite” due to the fact that Rice's assault was caught on video and that he admitted to it, a contrast to the contradictory accounts in the Solo case and the court's determination that the accusers' accounts were “inconsistent and incomplete.”
Gulati told Blumenthal that the USSF is gathering information about and investigating the new events detailed in media reports.
The full letter of response from Gulati can be read here.
Solo was suspended by U.S. Soccer for 30 days in January after she was a passenger when her husband was arrested on suspicion of DUI while he was driving a U.S. Soccer van.
The USWNT, with Solo starting, continued Group D play at the Women's World Cup on Friday with a 0–0 draw against Sweden.
- Molly Geary and Will Green