Hope Solo, the U.S.A. women’s soccer team’s goalkeeper was teased by spectators at the first match of the Rio Olympics.
According to a Reuters report, Brazilian fans targeted Solo by shouting out “Zika!” In her direction throughout the match against New Zealand at the Belo Horizonte. The taunts were, however, light-hearted and made reference to a social media post made by Hope, ahead of her plane ride to Rio, in which she posed in a mosquito net with a bottle of insect repellent in hand and made an announcement that she would not be sharing her bottle with any one else.
Solo was referring to the epidemic caused by the Zika virus in Brazil and other countries of South America, where hundreds of thousands have been affected by the mosquito-borne viral disease.
On Twitter, Hope Solo had shown off her rather impressive stash of repellents and precautionary apparatus.
Her paranoia — not entirely unjustified, seeing the exodus of golfers who have opted out of the Rio Olympics over Zika fears — was made fun of by an audience of nearly 10,000 at the Mineirao Stadium.
The two-time Olympic gold-medalist and the 2015 World Cup winning team member, however, was unperturbed by the taunts and jeers. The National Post quoted the Seattle Reign goalie.
“…glad the fans had fun, and if they had fun at my expense, more power to them.”
The match was controlled by a controlled performance by the United States team, including Hope Solo, that resulted in the world champions beating New Zealand 2-0. Carli Lloyd opened the match by intercepting a cross and converting it into a header with remarkable alacrity — a move that took Kiwi goalkeeper Erin Nayler by surprise, at the ninth minute.
In the second half, Alex Morgan scored the second U.S. goal. The New York Times report of the match slates Hope Solo’s jeering as the most important point of a lackluster match.
According to the report, whenever Solo took hold of the ball or would execute a goal kick, fans would erupt with the “Zika” chant, as is the tradition of South American soccer chanting.
For the 35-year-old Hope Solo, the fears are substantiated by her intentions of starting a family. By now, it is well known that the Zika virus particularly affects pregnant women or those women who intend to get pregnant.
Hope had initially thought of giving the Rio Olympics a miss, but later decided to go ahead with the trip.
Solo broke down her reasons for taking a steadfast stand and not bowing down to the booing in an interview which was quoted by Sports Illustrated.
“I did know they were booing, but it doesn’t affect me. I came here to do one thing, and that’s to help our team win, our country win. And I’m very focused in doing that. Is it a bummer? I wish people would understand that I did my due diligence before coming to Brazil. It was a personal decision I had to make alongside my husband [Jeffrey Stevens]. And it’s not something I just spoke about without getting educated on. It was something very serious to me because I do want to start a family.”
Hope Solo has also been posting on her experiences in Brazil. The social media-savvy player has so far been having a great time, during which she has found moments of humor as well, as can be seen in the above tweet.
With a record 102 clean sheets, Hope Solo will head to the crucial match against France — coincidentally her 200th match — on Saturday in her selfsame gloves which are no strangers to controversy thanks to her ritual outspokenness.
[Photo by Pedro Vilela/Getty Images]