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Facts still unclear between Atlanta, Boston in Solo tweeting controversy

Anyone following WPS knows all about the drama surrounding Hope Solo and her Twitter accusations made against the Boston Breakers after Boston defeated the Atlanta Beat 2-0 Wednesday, August 4 at Harvard Stadium.  If you have been living under a rock, you can read the joint statement released by the teams here and my Sports Illustrated column here.

One point admittedly overlooked is that if – and in a battle of he said-she said, the if is very important – there were racist comments made toward Atlanta Beat players, Solo does deserve credit for standing up against them and sticking up for her teammates.  That is what Atlanta Beat General Manager Shawn McGee emphasized Thursday.  Here is what he had to say:

“There are two sides to every story and I can tell you that there were inappropriate and racist comments made by individuals at the match that were directed towards our Japanese players and Hope stood up for her teammates and what she did was to call out something that she believed in and she did not think was appropriate at any sporting event, much less a Women’s Professional Soccer game.  You know and I give her props and stand by her side and back her on what she did.  Having said that, we could have handled it a little more internally and we have certainly spoken with her and worked with the Breakers organization, who have been fantastic to work with and they are working very diligently to make sure that we don’t have any other recurrences like that at any other future games.  And likewise, we’ll be looking at our stadium and making sure that we take appropriate action if those types of things happen.”

The alleged comments are disturbing to hear and if any such things were said, Solo’s reactions are not only justified but completely tame in comparison.  The main issue is the lack of evidence to prove or disprove such a happenings.  I’ve gone back and forth on printing some of these alleged comments and with varying stories and little evidence, it makes no sense to stir the pot.  You can get a sense of some things from these statements.

Boston Breakers General Manager Andy Crossley had this to say in response:

“The Beat organization now has additional remarks about the Hope Solo incident both to you and to venues like The Marietta Daily Journal. This is surprising in light of the hours that we spent collaborating with them last weekend on a diplomatic and carefully worded joint statement which was intended to be the final word on the matter.  As the Beat have said, there are two sides to every story.  So after a week of declining further comment, it is now time to level the playing field.

“Fact: Solo’s post-game Twitter allegations were not independently corroborated by anyone in attendance who was not an acquaintance of Hope Solo.

“Vetting he said/she said accounts is a murky and unsatisfying exercise.  However, the nature of the allegations was so serious and so ugly that we choose to accept them as fact.  We decided to proceed with the worst-case assumption, because to do otherwise would be a grave disservice to the game, the athletes and the fans if we were to dismiss these allegations in error.  Accordingly, we made two decisions.  First, that we would disregard the two dozen or so witness statements from security contractors, third party concessions workers, fans, players, volunteers and front office staff stationed in that area of the stadium who insisted they heard no comments of a racial nature whatsoever.  Second, that we would take this opportunity to employ additional security measures to further improve the quality and safety of the stadium atmosphere for all participants at Breakers home matches.

“Fact: Solo’s Twitter comments inaccurately and unnecessarily smeared an entire ‘fan club’ (the Riptide) and entire ‘organization’ (the Breakers) with the poisonous accusation of racism.  These are the comments that the Beat organization now ‘stand(s) beside her’ on and ‘give(s) her props’ for.

“Solo – and all participants in the match – would have received the benefit of the same investigation had her concerns been brought to the attention of both clubs properly and directly.  If anything, Solo’s impulse to tweet these allegations in the heated moments following a decisive loss by her team hindered our investigation, because it increased the suspension of disbelief required to get at the truth of the matter.

“Ultimately both teams determined that whatever racial comments were made were directed at the field by one or two or three unidentified individuals within a crowd of several thousand.  Let me be clear that the Breakers are proceeding under the assumption that this did happen, although not from the mouths of the Riptide.  The courts of fan and player opinion will ultimately decide whether our organization has taken the proper corrective measures in response to this.  One principle that all participants can agree on is that the ugly specter of racial taunting has no place in WPS or in sport in general.”

To date, WPS is yet to get publicly involved in the situation.


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