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Solo to AP: Fight for quality more important than return to USWNT

Hope Solo wants to play for the U.S. again but said it comes second to the fight for equality (Photo Copyright Erica McCaulley for The Equalizer)

Hope Solo wants to play for the U.S. again but said it comes second to the fight for equality (Photo Copyright Erica McCaulley for The Equalizer)

In an extensive interview with Anne M Peterson of the Associated Press, Hope Solo said she hopes to play for the U.S. national team again but that the fight for equality for its players is more important than whether or not she ever represents her country again.

“I find it an honor and a privilege to represent our country at the highest level in a sport that I love, in a position that I love. And I would do almost anything to play at that level once again,” Solo told Peterson. “I say almost, because at this point in time I believe our fight for equality is much bigger than being on the national team again.”

Solo has been suspended from the team since August 24. The ban will expire February 24 but she also had her contract terminated for cause. She told Peterson she believes she was fired to keep her on the sidelines while the players attempt to hash out a collective bargaining agreement with U.S. Soccer.

“Let’s call it what is, which is a firing. It was a termination of my contract effective immediately with severance. That is a firing. It wasn’t a suspension, that’s what they told the media because it looked better. But I got fired. I got fired for what they say was using the word ‘cowards’ but in reality they got rid of an adversary in the fight for equal pay.”

The cowards reference is about the United States’ loss to Sweden in the Olympic quarterfinals after which Solo called into question the bunker tactics employed by former U.S. and now Sweden coach Pia Sundhage. She said she spoke to U.S. coach Jill Ellis and U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati later that night and thought the incident was behind them. The suspension and contract termination, she said, took her by surprise.

Solo is following the ongoing collective bargaining negotiations and “hopes and prays” the players will not back down. The agreement expires December 31. Players have not ruled out a strike if the federation does not meet their demands.

Speaking to assembled media at the NWSL Championship, Ellis was asked about the chances of Solo returning to the team and offered a simple reply: “I haven’t thought about it.”

The article does not include any mention of Solo’s recent shoulder surgery. Peterson tweeted that she is taking her recovery slowly.

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