Brazilians Mock U.S. Goalkeeper Hope Solo with ‘Zika’ Chants

The U.S. women’s soccer team beat New Zealand to open the Olympics on Wednesday. The Brazilian fans beat up the American goalkeeper.

Hope Solo touching the ball unleashed chants of “Zika” in Bela Horizonte, Brazil. The locals find the international media outcry over the Zika virus sensationalistic, and blame Solo for helping to fuel the hype.

“If I had to make the choice today,” Solo said of the Olympics in February, “I wouldn’t go.”

Two months later she decided to compete but with misgivings.

“Over the past few months, I’ve done a lot of research and spoken to a number of infectious disease specialists,” Solo told Sports Illustrated. “Weighing all the available information, it’s clear there are still so many unknowns and risks involved with going to the Games, but I will compete in Rio and take the necessary precautions to protect myself as best I can.”

At 35, Solo hears her clock ticking—for a baby and for another gold medal. With time running out on both, Solo opted to go to Brazil with precautions.

The Zika virus poses an especially scary risk to babies in utero, who can endure severe brain abnormalities and death as a result of the disease. Solo is married to former NFL tight end Jerramy Stevens. Her maternal and competitive instincts potentially conflicted on the decision, but Solo remains satisfied that the reward of Rio far outweighs the risk.

The chants likely grower louder when the U.S. team plays in Manaus on Tuesday against Colombia. Solo slammed the International Olympic Committee as “irresponsible” for scheduling women’s soccer games in the jungle city.

But Solo, stopping all shots that came her way, seems unfazed by the ridicule on Wednesday night in the planned city in the south of Brazil.

“I’m glad the fans had fun,” Solo reflected after the Wednesday win.  “And if they had fun at my expense, more power to them.”


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