United States women’s national team star goalkeeper Hope Solo has been cleared of domestic violence charges after a judge dismissed her case on Tuesday. Solo had allegedly been in an altercation last June with her half-sister and her son, Solo’s nephew, after which the two pressed charges.
The two counts of fourth-degree assault, resulting from what by several accounts seemed to be a drunken brawl, were dismissed on the basis that the half-sister and her son had failed to give depositions to Solo’s defense team on numerous occasions. There were allegedly also inconsistencies between the accounts of the prosecution and the accusers.
Solo was facing several months of jail time, which could have cost the 32-year-old her chance to play at the 2015 Women’s World Cup.
She had continued playing for the USA throughout her legal ordeal. U.S. Soccer announced that it would let the legal process play out, treating the player as innocent until proven guilty, for which it took some criticism. Some commentators pointed to Solo’s position as a role model and argued that she should be sidelined while her reputation was tainted by the accusations.
The federation celebrated Solo’s U.S.-record 73rd national team shutout anyway, and even awarded her with an honorary captaincy for the following game.
The case, and its fallout, posed some urgent questions about the unequal treatment between male and female athletes when it comes to their brushes with the law. It seemed then and now that the threshold of tolerance for legal troubles is much lower for female stars than it is for the male ones. Critics perpetually point to "all the little girls out there" and the potentially harmful influence of their disgraced role models. No such argument is typically made for the male stars and all the boys out there, though.
Solo, it seemed – while she certainly has a history of erratic behavior and had been in a domestic violence incident before – was considered to be guilty just because of who she was: a female athlete who, like so many males, is outspoken and has something of a tumultuous private life.
For women, that’s apparently not acceptable.
Regardless of all that, the news will come as a relief for the U.S. women’s national team. While the team is fairly deep in most positions, the drop-off behind Solo is steep among the goalkeepers. The Americans’ chances of finally ending their 16-year Women’s World Cup drought are far better with Solo in goal than in jail, or otherwise sidelined.