Hope Solo, the controversial soccer star who is arguably the greatest goalkeeper in U.S. soccer history, made the surprise announcement Thursday night that she is running for U.S. Soccer president. Solo’s spokesperson told SI.com that Solo has the three formal nominations needed by Tuesday’s deadline to become an official candidate in the Feb. 10 election.
Days after longtime U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati announced he would not be seeking re-election in the wake of the U.S. men’s failure to qualify for World Cup 2018, Solo became the ninth candidate to enter the race—and the second woman.
In an announcement on Facebook, Solo outlined what she believes are the biggest problems facing U.S. Soccer, including the excessive expenses of youth soccer, unequal gender treatment and what she views is a lack of transparency from the people who run the organization.
Solo, 36, has won one World Cup (in 2015) and two Olympic gold medals (in ’08 and ’12) in a career that has included 202 caps with the U.S. women’s national team. She last played in a game when the U.S. was eliminated by Sweden in the quarterfinals of the 2016 Olympics. Afterward, Solo called the Swedes “cowards” for their style of play. U.S. Soccer responded by suspending Solo for six months and terminating her contract with the federation.
Solo underwent shoulder surgery and has been recovering from that this year. She has not announced her retirement from club or international play.
Solo’s election opponents will no doubt point out her inexperience in running an organization and her past experience with law enforcement. In 2014, Solo was arrested on domestic assault charges related to a fight with her half-sister and nephew. (The charges have not been resolved yet according to press reports.) And in 2015, Solo was suspended from the national team for 30 days after her husband, ex-NFL player Jerramy Stevens, was arrested and charged with driving a U.S. Soccer team van under the influence. (Solo was in the van.)
Solo was recently in the news when she accused former FIFA president Sepp Blatter of groping her at a FIFA awards show in 2013. (Blatter denied the allegation.)
When Solo was still playing on the USWNT in recent years, she actively pushed for equal pay and treatment from the federation in comparison to the USMNT. Her preferred union leader, Rich Nichols, became the USWNT players union head and took a hard line with U.S. Soccer. Later, Nichols was pushed out by the USWNT players, who went on to sign a new collective bargaining agreement with U.S. Soccer.
The other U.S. Soccer presidential candidates are (in alphabetical order): Paul Caligiuri, Kathy Carter, Carlos Cordeiro, Steve Gans, Paul Lapointe, Kyle Martino, Michael Winograd and Eric Wynalda. At least a few candidates are not expected to earn the three formal nominations needed by Tuesday to stand in the official election.