Watching the US beat Colombia 2-0, China 1-0, and then Germany 2-0 in the Women's World Cup one may feel proud just as I was proud watching Lance Armstrong only to find out later that he was a fraud or Detroit Tiger fans rooting for Ty Cobb at the turn of the century only to find out later that he was an abusive racist. We love to put our heroes on pedestals and are shocked when we find out the truth and don't want to believe it (the "say if ain't so Joe" effect).
Hope Solo, the US goalkeeper who has only allowed one goal so far may lead the US team to their first WC win since 1999. She is accused of assaulting her half sister and her nephew last summer and had a restraining order placed against her as a senior in high school. The evidence against her seems strong in the video clip at the top of the post. The Rachel Maddow has been cheering the US women on her blog and her show with no mention of Solo's legal troubles while she criticized the NFL for it's lackadaisical response to the domestic abuse of Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson.
Reliable statistics on domestic violence can be hard to come by especially when victims do not want to come forward. The studies that have been done suggest that women are victims more often than men. One study estimates that 1.5 million women and 834,732 men are victims annually. Women can be abusers of children and their partners, again probably to a lesser extent than men. There may be a cultural bias that women cannot be abusers like men are.
FIFA (the governing body of world soccer with many of it's leaders under indictment for corruption) and US Soccer also doesn't want to punish Solo because she is one of their major stars. She is one of women's soccer's few money makers in endorsements and merchandising.
The male game in soccer and the NFL has many stars who can take the place of one bad apple like Ray Rice. The women's game is trying to increase interest throughout the world. FIFA head Sepp Blatter has talked about improving the profile of the women's game by giving them tighter fitting clothes. With the right public pressure NFL commissioner Roger Goodell did the right thing with respect to domestic abusing players in his league. What will it take for women's soccer?
The US women's team defeated Japan 5-2 in the World Cup Final. It had the largest US TV audience ever for a soccer game. The US team was only paid a fraction of the men's World Cup winning team, Germany. It's pretty clear that the US could not have made it to the final without Hope Solo. The win at all costs mentality prevails.
The domestic violence charges against Solo have been reinstated.