Two-time World Cup Golden Glove winner likened the United States Women’s National Team to a ‘mean girls club’ when she first joined
Former United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) goaltender Hope Solo said the team had a “very privileged white culture” and recounted her experience of being bullied when she joined the squad for the first time.
Solo made his USWNT debut in 2000 and went on to become one of the game’s greatest goaltenders, winning two Olympic golds and the 2015 World Cup while winning 202 caps during his career.
The goalkeeper was no stranger to the controversy either, seeing his American football contract terminated in 2016 after calling Sweden “a bunch of cowards” for their defensive style in their shock Olympic quarterfinal victory over the USWNT.
Talk on The players BBC Sport and COPA90 podcast, Solo recounted the difficult experiences she had on joining the USWNT for the first time.
“We’ve been bullied, let’s be honest,” Solo said. “You’re supposed to be competitive and you want to join the team and be the starter, but at the same time, if you have that feeling of self-confidence, it’s not always a good thing. You have to win every step of it. .
“When we grew up on the team it was fierce. People weren’t nice to us, people weren’t welcoming, they weren’t inviting you to sit at the table. It was really difficult to grow up in the national team for me in a social aspect as well as learning the game. It’s a much more open and welcome environment. [now]. “
Carli Lloyd, who remains with the USWNT after a decorated career that saw her win two World Cups and back-to-back FIFA World Player of the Year awards in 2015 and 2016, was also featured on the podcast.
Lloyd agreed with Solo’s experience through the ranks of the team.
“Hope and I, going through the international team, it was so difficult,” said Lloyd. “I would come home to my room and cry afterward because people were a little mean to me. It was just the competitive nature.
“When I first came to the squad I looked a bit swashbuckling in the jersey. I’m like, ‘I don’t care who you are, what you’ve accomplished or done, I come for your place ‘. ”
Solo added that there is also a racial dynamic at play with the USWNT, as football in the United States is very often a more accessible sport for higher income communities.
“When you grew up in the national team, there was a mean girls’ club,” Solo added. “It was a mean girls’ club. Most of the players come from wealthy, white families. That’s the culture of the US Women’s National Team. It’s a very privileged white culture.
“I remember Carli and I was always talking about the culture, ‘we have to change this culture’. Carli and I were very welcoming, we were not bullies. We were very nice to the young children who came, but I think it was because we were bullied. We have always wanted to change this culture, but in the end I’m not sure if we succeeded. “