US Soccer stands by Solo stance; Media backlash keeps on coming

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US Soccer is standing by its decision to let goalkeeper Hope Solo play while awaiting trial on domestic abuse charges, despite fresh criticism in light of the National Football League’s abuse scandals of the past weeks.

Domestic abuse has been at the forefront of the news since video surfaced of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice assaulting his then-fiancee-now-wife in an elevator, and the ensuing furor at the NFL’s bungling of that case and some others, with discipline in the Rice and Adrian Peterson cases — and others — seeming to be based on public opinion more than anything else (and that Roger Goodell press conference? Ugh).

The NFL headlines, though, had some writers pondering why Solo continued to play on despite her charges.

[ ELSEWHERE: Americans Abroad Review ]

Those charges are a pair of fourth-degree domestic violence charges stemming from a summer incident involving her sister-in-law and 17-year-old nephew. Solo’s lawyer has said she will be proven not guilty, and alleges that she was hit over the head with a broom handle during the altercation. Her nephew claims she showed up to a party drunk and fist-fought him, allegedly punching his mom in the face when she intervened.

And while it’s dangerous to mix the NFL and Solo stories simply because they are domestic abuse charges, it’s cause US Soccer and Nike to respond.

From the Associated Press:

“U.S. Soccer takes the issue of domestic violence very seriously. From the beginning, we considered the information available and have taken a deliberate and thoughtful approach regarding Hope Solo’s status with the national team,” [US Soccer president Sunil] Gulati said in a statement. “Based on that information, U.S. Soccer stands by our decision to allow her to participate with the team as the legal process unfolds. If new information becomes available we will carefully consider it.”

Gulati’s statement comes after U.S. Olympic Committee Chief Executive Officer Scott Blackmun said he was disturbed by the charges against Solo. But in a statement to USA Today he did not say whether he believes she should face disciplinary action, such as suspension, before the matter plays out in court.

“The allegations involving Ms. Solo are disturbing and are inconsistent with our expectations of Olympians,” Blackmun said. ” We have had discussions with U.S. Soccer and fully expect them to take action if it is determined that the allegations are true.”

Nike also issued a statement Monday standing by Solo, pending her legal situation.

“We are aware of the allegations and that Hope Solo has pled ‘not guilty’ to the charges. Hope remains a Nike athlete and we will continue to monitor the situation,” the statement said.

Last week I linked to a Washington Post column on whether it was fair that Solo played on, and said that the discussion itself was fair play regardless of opinion. In my view, Solo could stay on the field, but was that right? It’s innocent until proven guilty, after all, and how we frame this discussion can be crucial. For example, if I choose to use a featured photo of Solo playing or presenting an award rather than her in court — or vice versa — it can play a role in how the casual reader digests the information.

source: Getty Images source: Getty Imagessource: AP

Yet on the other side of the discussion, would I reconsider whether I believed the goalkeeper should play if this was an issue regarding a men’s player allegedly beating up his sister-in-law and teenage nephew? And should that matter in a world where men in powerful sporting positions often catch plenty of breaks?

We live in a very muddled, biased world and it’s been extremely interesting to watch as some bury themselves so far on either extreme of the line that it will be impossible to find their way back in any reasonable manner. Surely the majority of us would love to see the Solo incident either:

A) proven to be overblown

-or-

B) rise above any false equivalency and be treated as it is.

But it’s important to note two things, one that each extreme of the debate needs to know. One, the sheer number of “I’d let her beat me up” lines coming from the audience due to Solo’s nature as a powerful, attractive female athlete detract from the discussion. And two, if Solo is proven to have done some horrible things that led to her getting arrested and her employers/sponsors didn’t do their due diligence, in part because of point one, then a grain of salt would’ve been pretty cool all along from the fervent supporters who are backing an underlying belief rather than observing the incident itself.

If you’re in the “I can’t wait for this story to be resolved and over” crowd, good luck. ESPN’s Keith Olbermann weighed in recently. At the end of a segment on the NFL’s abuse failures, he lit into US Soccer and the Seattle Reign. In the case of the former, for giving her the captain’s armband while awaiting trial. And while some on the fringes will immediately reject his points because he’s neither a woman nor a soccer player, he too gives us something new to discuss.

Let’s face facts: nothing about this is easy, but at least one of society’s most difficult and oft-hidden issues is in the crosshairs.

Watch Live: Wolves-Spurs, Manchester United-Everton

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Two absolute beauties kick off Sunday’s Premier League action, and your stream links for Man Utd-Everton and Wolves-Spurs are below.

Jose Mourinho’s Spurs will hit the NBCSN airwaves at 9 a.m. ET when they tangle with beastly Wolves, who haven’t lost in league play since September.

Wolves enter the day seventh and Spurs eighth, but both can finish the day within a win of fourth place Chelsea.

[ STREAM: Wolves-Spurs | Man Utd-Everton ]

At the same time at Old Trafford, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will hope to continue Manchester United’s good vibes against visitors Everton.

Solskjaer’s Red Devils can pull into fifth place with a win, closing to within two points of the Top Four. Everton enters the day two points clear of the drop zone, and would love to pull into 13th with a win.

Read previews of both games, as well as the 11:30 a.m. ET kick between Arsenal and Man City, here.

9 a.m. ET: Wolverhampton Wanderers v. Tottenham Hotspur — NBCSN [ STREAM ]
9 a.m. ET: Manchester United v. Everton — NBC Sports Gold [ STREAM ]

LINEUPS

Wolves: Patricio, Saiss, Coady, Dendoncker, Jonny, Neves, Moutinho, Doherty, Jota, Traore, Jimenez.

Spurs: Gazzaniga, Aurier, Alderweireld, Sanchez, Vertonghen, Dier, Sissoko, Dele, Son, Lucas, Kane.


Manchester United: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, McTominay, Fred, James, Lingard, Rashford, Martial.

Everton: Pickford, Keane, Mina, Holgate, Digne, Coleman, Iwobi, Davies, Bernard, Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin.

Serie A roundup: Napoli falls to Parma in debut for Gattuso (video)

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Napoli’s last-minute loss to Parma in Gennaro Gattuso’s debut highlights Saturday’s Serie A action.

 [ MORE: Serie A scores, schedule ]

Napoli 1-2 Parma

Napoli remains in a dark place as Gennaro Gattuso debut with Gli Azzurri ended in a last-minute 2-1 loss to Parma.

The defeat marks eight consecutive games without a win in Serie A play for Napoli, who dismissed Carlo Ancelotti earlier this week despite punching a ticket in the last 16 of the Champions League after a win over Genk.

After their fifth loss of the season, Napoli are currently eighth on the table with 21 points, seven behind sixth-placed Atalanta and 17 behind league leaders Inter Milan.

 

In the third minute of stoppage time, Gervinho – experienced as anyone else in tightly-contested situations – received a simple pass from Dejan Kulusevski, carefully striking it into the back of the net inside the six-yard box. The 32-year-old Ivorian has five goals in Serie A this season, and Saturday’s was his most important yet. 

For Gattuso (and hopeful Napoli supporters), Saturday was the antithesis of dreamy start, but with time and a change of mentality the situation may change.

“I don’t believe in bad luck. Right now we’re not good mentally,” the 41-year-old manager said following the match. “The team is paying for the fact that it has not won (in the league) for 50 or more days.”

“The first 10 minutes also prove it,” he added. “It’s tough as are the whistles of the fans. There’s a lot of work to do.”

The home side recorded 33 shots throughout the night, but Parma proved to be more clinical, scoring at death and opening the scoresheet just four minutes in. In the 64th minute, Napoli were able to get one go their way, as Dreis Merten’s lofting cross with force was headed home by Arkadiusz Milik. 

Gattuso and his men will be tested once as they travel to Sassuolo in a weeks time, while Parma look to trim their four-point gap with Atalanta when they host Brescia.

Elsewhere
Brescia 3-0 Lecce
Genoa 0-1 Sampdoria

Hertha’s under-16s stop playing after alleged racist abuse

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BERLIN (AP) Hertha Berlin’s under-16 team stopped playing a game at regional rival Auerbach after its players were allegedly subjected to racist abuse from their opponents on Saturday.

The Bundesliga club says in a statement on its website that “several players from our team were racially abused by their opposing players.”

Hertha officials informed the referee of the alleged abuse and decided to stop playing in the 68th minute while leading 2-0 “because we as Hertha BSC condemn racism and discrimination in every form,” the club said.

[ MORE: Bundesliga wrap – Klinsmann gets 1st win ]

Hertha executive board member Paul Keuter called it “the only correct decision, not to continue with the game.”

On Twitter, the club said: “There are times when football doesn’t come first. Racism has no place in our society.”

Hertha under-23 player Jessic Ngankam said he was targeted with monkey chants and called an “ape” by an opposing player during his side’s fourth division game against Lokomotive Leipzig on Dec. 6.

“Insults are unfortunately an everyday occurrence in football, and I can put up with them. But racist abuse is a no-go,” the 19-year-old Ngankam told broadcaster MDR.

Both Hertha and Lokomotive condemned the alleged abuse.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Ciaran Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP

La Liga roundup: Sociedad hold leaders Barcelona to draw (video)

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A stunning draw from top-of-the-table Barcelona highlight La Liga’s Saturday action.

[ FOLLOW: PST’s La Liga coverage ]

Real Sociedad 2-2 Barcelona

If Real Madrid manages to walk away from Mestalla with three points, they’ll dethrone nemesis Barcelona and become clear-cut leaders of La Liga.

Just days before El Clasico itself, a rare 2-2 draw from Barcelona against hosts Real Sociedad is the reason behind Los Blancos’ prime opportunity.

 

Former Borussia Dortmund starlet Alexander Isak tapped in his fourth goal of the season in the 62nd minute, leveling the score for Sociedad and sending the home fans into a frenzy.

In true Barcelona fashion, Real Sociedad, ironically hit the ground running first. 

After earning a foul inside the box from a corner kick set piece, Reala captain Mikel Oyarzabal converted from the spot, putting Sociedad, who have exceeded expectations this season under first-year manager Imanol Alguacil, up against the defending champions. 

It wouldn’t take long before the visitors responded, however.

A familiar face and experienced goalscorer at Anoeta, it was the ideal scenario for Antoine Griezmann to shake off some pressure that has been a key talking point surrounding the Frenchman lately. Darting inside the box with only Alex Remiro to beat, No. 17 – like in the old days – carefully chipped the ball over Remiro and into the back of the net the ball wandered. 

If the second half indicated anything early on it was that it was going to be difficult for Barcelona to drop points on Saturday. Unselfish as ever before, Lionel Messi laid off the ball to an unmarked Luis Suarez, who his team up 2-1 four minutes into the second half.

A lack of control of possession and, most notably, an unstable defensive line, would end up costing Barcelona two points.

Next for Barcelona is the game of the season: a league bout against Real Madrid on Wednesday, while Real Sociedad travel to Becerril in the second round of Copa del Rey. 

Elsewhere
Atletico Madrid 2-0 Osasuna
Granada 1-2 Levante
Atheltic Bilbao 0-0 Eibar