Hope Solo Isn't Ready to Settle

The United States women's national soccer team won another incremental victory in their ongoing battle for equality on Friday, Nov. 8, when a judge granted them class-action status in their lawsuit against US Soccer. The next morning, we talked to celebrated former USWNT goalie Hope Solo about her reaction to the news.

"I think each win is incredibly important in this fight. You have to celebrate the small victories, because this is a long journey, and a long road, and we've taken a lot of hits along the way," Hope told POPSUGAR. "I know the facts are on our side, so I have a sense of confidence and positivity in this. But at the same time, it's grueling. It's hours on calls with attorneys — it's like I'm an attorney right now, I'm reading so many documents. But information is power and I make sure that I'm incredibly informed. There's also power in numbers, so I'm proud the team got behind the cause."

"We got into this fight to change everything for future generations. It wasn't supposed to be about us."

Hope was in Los Angeles to join a panel on optimizing performance at Summit LA19. The conference brought together athletes, entrepreneurs, scientists, and other change-makers — from former Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn to Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi — to discuss topics from philanthropy to AI.

Hope was key in sparking the movement for equality in soccer when she filed a pay discrimination complaint against US Soccer in 2016, as did four of her teammates. Later that year, the USWNT terminated Hope's contract, essentially forcing her into retirement, after she called the Swedish national team "cowards." Hope maintains her dismissal wasn't really about the trash talk, but was instead a transparent reaction to her ongoing outspokenness about inequality.

Hope reflected on the contentious time leading up to that moment during the panel. "I just kept being told, 'Shut up, do your job, you're lucky,'" she recalled. "There were a lot of sacrifices . . . ultimately it led to me being fired. It's all the corporate bullsh*t. But I knew this was the ultimate fight. At some point, I think the ship will be righted, [but] we have to fight this in court. It is the fight of my life."

Getty | Scott Heavey

Hope filed her own equal pay lawsuit against US Soccer in August 2018, six months before her former teammates would file their own. She has largely carved out her own path in pursuing action against US Soccer, and while she told us she will automatically be part of the class-action suit, she is still determined to do things on her own terms — which could mean opting out of the class action.

"If there's a settlement, it doesn't change the law. It's admitting there are inadequacies in US Soccer, and it's a good step for US soccer, but it's not a great step for women overall," Hope said. "And so, for me, who knows what's going to happen? I might be stuck in court for another couple of years, or I might be part of the class action. I have no idea."

We asked if Hope could envision a scenario in which she'd agree to settle with US Soccer rather than battle it out in court. "That's what I've said all along — that I can't imagine [settling]. We got into this fight to change everything for future generations. It wasn't supposed to be about us. It wasn't supposed to be about us getting money, it wasn't supposed to be about us getting notoriety," she said. "It was supposed to be about changing things for the future generations. So the only way we can do it is not by putting money in our pockets, but by continuing in this really ugly battle. Reading boring documents, this really long fight in federal court . . . that's the way to do it."

Photo courtesy SUMMIT LA19 | Kyle Cordova

At the end of the panel — which also featured Trevor Moawad, one of the best-known mental-conditioning experts in sports — one audience member asked Hope how she's stayed positive despite the challenges she's faced in both her personal and professional life. "I think I have every right to be bitter," Hope said with a smile, "and I am not bitter. I accomplished everything I wanted to. And I've fought for my happiness."