Hope Solo Shouldn’t Be Booed At The Olympics For Talking About Her Zika Fears

At the first U.S. women’s soccer match of the 2016 Summer Olympics Wednesday, goalkeeper Hope Solo was booed every time she touched the ball. Brazilians were mad at Solo because she posted a picture to Twitter and Instagram with a mosquito net on her head, showing off some hardcore insect repellant. “Not sharing this!” she captioned the photo. But Solo wasn’t being a total asshole, like, for example, Justine Sacco, who ignorantly tweeted about flying to Africa and getting AIDS. Sacco wasn’t going to get HIV from landing in Africa, but Solo could get Zika.

The entire stadium, in a game against New Zealand, chanted “Zika! Zika!” simply because she expressed concern and joked about catching the virus before she landed in Rio. Even back in May, Solo told CNBC she was reluctant to travel and didn’t want to leave her Brazil hotel room.

Zika is actually dangerous for women who want to get pregnant, could get pregnant, or already are pregnant. There is enough concern about Zika to make the Centers for Disease Control issue travel warnings and for President Obama to ask for $1.9 billion in funding for whatever ramifications the U.S. faces.

Solo isn’t pregnant right now. Zika isn’t deadly and it certainly doesn’t need to have any stigma attached to it. So fine. But just because the World Health Organization deemed Brazil “safe” for the Olympics doesn’t mean women, who the virus primarily affects, can’t think twice or joke about it in a selfie.

Maybe Solo shouldn’t have joked about a virus that has caused more than 4,000 babies in Brazil to be born with microcephaly, but maybe that joke was one little jab at health officials, Olympic sponsors and organizers, and Team USA for making her travel to a place that could possibly affect her uterus one day. Some male athletes with pregnant or planning to be pregnant wives skipped the games entirely. If Zika were making men’s penises shrink, there might have been a different venue for the games, but as it stands, it only really affects women.

For the U.S. women’s soccer team, these Olympics are all sorts of unfair. Not only are they playing in a country where the risk of Zika is high and potentially dangerous, they also still don’t get paid the same as the U.S. men’s team. The men aren’t even at the games because they didn’t qualify, because they suck, so it’s total BS they get paid more in the first place.

Solo, along with Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Megan Rapinoe led the fight for equal pay, threatening to skip the games entirely unless they were paid fairly. But apparently there is a clause in their contracts that says they can’t protest, and they were struck down. The league has until Dec. 31 to come to an agreement with the team, which might not be likely, as the league says the women’s claims are unfounded because their salaries are paid under a different collective bargaining agreement than the men’s. It would have been a lot more interesting, and far more effective probably, if the best women’s soccer team in the world skipped the Olympics to stand up for their right to be paid equally. Alas, they were wrangled into going.

So, if Solo talks some shit and complains about being in Rio and the dangerous mosquitoes there, it seems like there’s a reason for it. She and her teammates are being treated like crap. Stop booing her and boo the U.S. Soccer League instead.