One reason why the U.S. men’s national soccer team failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia is that soccer in America is a “rich white-kid sport,” former U.S. women's team goalie Hope Solo said Wednesday.
Solo, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, was speaking at the Hashtag Sports conference in New York City. She said the sport in the U.S. is too expensive for Latino, African-American and rural kids to play -- adding that if she was a kid today her family wouldn’t be able to afford to help her advance in the game.
“We have alienated the Hispanic communities. We have alienated our black communities. We have alienated the underrepresented communities, even rural communities," Solo said, according to Sporting News. "So soccer in America right now is a rich white-kid sport.”
“Then we have to ask ourselves, ‘Well, no wonder why we are not qualifying for the World Cup, when we have alienated a huge population of really talented youth soccer players.’ And that’s the state of the game right now.”
Solo helped the U.S. women’s team to a World Cup title in 2015 and later ran unsuccessfully to be president of the U.S. Soccer Federation, the body that oversees the national teams.
She has also run into trouble on and off the pitch.
In 2014, Solo was arrested on assault charges in an incident involving her nephew and half-sister, but those charges were later dismissed. U.S. Soccer terminated her contract with the team after the 2016 Rio Olympics over her comments about the Swedish national team.