Thursday 18 October 2018

Forget Dunphy, meet the firebrand joining RTÉ's line-up for World Cup

Hope Solo: the former US women’s football team goalkeeper has courted controversy. Photo: Getty
Hope Solo: the former US women’s football team goalkeeper has courted controversy. Photo: Getty

Sean O'Grady

Never mind Eamon Dunphy throwing a pen across the studio table - here is RTÉ's new troublemaker.

The station is set to welcome its most controversial soccer pundit ever - American star Hope Solo, who has had brushes with the law in the past.

Solo will be RTÉ's latest female World Cup pundit and will be joined by the likes of Liam Brady, Damien Duff, Shay Given and Richard Dunne.

However, she is expected to be the most colourful panellist among them.

The renowned goalkeeper (36), who helped her country to two Olympic gold medals, was arrested on domestic assault charges in June 2014 for allegedly assaulting her sister and nephew. She denied the charges and they were ultimately dropped.

But she has also faced difficulties on the pitch.

In 2016, she was suspended for six months by US Soccer for calling the Swedish team "a bunch of cowards" after her team was knocked out on penalties in the quarter-finals of the Rio Olympics.

"I'm very proud of this team," she said referring to the US, before adding: "And I also think we played a bunch of cowards. The best team did not win today."

Terminated

Solo later apologised for her comments. She was banned and had her contract terminated. However, the US Women's National Team players' association filed a grievance on her behalf which was later settled.

Meanwhile, in 2007 she provoked the ire of her teammates when she was left on the substitutes bench in the semi-finals of the World Cup in favour of Briana Scurry. The US lost the game 4-0 to Brazil. Following the match, she told a reporter going with Scurry was the "wrong decision".

She added: "There's no doubt in my mind I would have made those saves."

Some players accused her of "treason" and the controversial outburst saw her kicked off the team for the remainder of the tournament.

An RTÉ spokesperson said the station would not comment on Solo's prior controversies.

The dates for when she will be part of the punditry panel have not been confirmed.

Darragh Maloney and Peter Collins will present the live coverage, along with Jacqui Hurley, the first woman on the presenting team for the tournament.

Irish Independent

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