In the early hours of Friday morning Hope Solo announced her candidacy for US Soccer Federation President.
She isn’t the right person for the job. In fact, she is the exact wrong person for the job. She is controversial, polarizing, and has an extreme lack of filter in rather inopportune moments. She should not be elected to the position.
But that does not mean that her candidacy is meaningless. It actually may be the most important and game-changing event that has happened in this race. And Solo running may create more influence on the future of the US Soccer than any other candidate ever has.
Why is that? Well, because she is Hope Solo.
Solo is loud. She is demanding. And she is captivating. Whether you love her or you hate her (because there is no in between) she forces you to sit up and listen when she speaks. And she is looking to speak as a candidate. And the issues that she wants to speak about with regards to US Soccer are pertinent. They are issues that other candidates don’t want to touch. They are issues that many candidates don’t have answers to. But they are issues that Solo will refuse to shy away from – ones that she has no problem bringing to the forefront.
Her candidacy looks to bring awareness to what is clearly being ignored. And her voice speaks for those that do not have a platform – the underprivileged, the minorities, the underdogs. Because Solo has had a very different upbringing than most of her US counterparts. She didn’t grow up with money. And that fact makes her realize better than anyone else how hard it is to develop your soccer skills in the US when you don’t come from an upper middle class family. She understands the struggle of young players who are good enough to play, but whose families don’t have extra thousands of dollars every year to allow them to do so. She has a stance on pay for play, and she recognizes the disparages between the classes and how that effects the talent pool for the sport. Other candidates cannot say the same.
She also gets to speak from first hand experience to the inequalities that women face in the soccer world. She has been a part of the major lawsuits. She has lived the life of a female athlete on the National level. And she knows exactly how differently she was treated in comparison to the men. No other candidate brings that. And for the most part, no other candidate really has any concrete ideas on how to improve the women’s side of US Soccer. But you best believe that Solo does.
The greatest thing that Solo brings to the table though is her ability to get the other candidates to talk and give their opinions. They have been good at dodging anything really concrete so far, but Solo will demand it of them. She can get answers from them – answers that we all want, but may not have been able to get without her. Because she will take a stance on the issues. They may not be the best stances, or the ones that US Soccer needs, but they will put the other candidates on notice to do the same. If they don’t…well, she’s Hope Solo – she’s never afraid to call anyone out.
And that is probably her biggest downfall as a candidate. It’s why she shouldn’t be the head of the US Soccer Federation. Tact isn’t always her strong suit. When her emotions run high she tends to say the wrong thing. She fails to have the ability to take a breath, compose herself, and think of the consequences before speaking. She just reacts. And she was the bad girl of the soccer world for a reason – she didn’t care who it was, if she had beef she would say something. Brandi Chastain. The Swedish National Team. And even the US Soccer Federation on a few occasions. Mirror that with her antics off the pitch and it becomes even more difficult to make a case to support her candidacy. It could create issues with other Federations and with the cohesiveness of ours. It could throw us into chaos in a worst-case scenario. It could set us back.
Yes, her election to USSF President could have momentous repercussions, but her candidacy could also usher in a new level of meaning to the position. One where the candidate must have thoughts, and take stances, and be able to communicate the steps to achieve their visions for the future of the Federation. It wouldn’t just be a popularity contest or a contest to see who has the biggest bank account. No, her candidacy helps ensure that this race means something. Her candidacy holds the rest of the candidates accountable.
And that was all done simply by her throwing her hat in the ring. Because she is Hope Solo. She has always demanded excellence of herself. So there is no doubt that she will demand excellence from her competition as well. The stakes were already high. But she just raised them.