Why is Hope Solo still playing, despite abuse charges?

USA goal keeper Hope Solo (1) stands for the playing of the national anthem prior to the first half of a game against Mexico at Sahlen's Stadium. USA won the game 4-0. (Mark Konezny/USA Today)

IF SHE WERE an NFL player, U.S. women's national team goalkeeper Hope Solo would likely be on the newly popular commissioner's exempt list.

That is where Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was placed on as he handles his indictment on charges of causing negligent injury to a child and Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy was stashed as he awaits a new trial of his conviction on two counts of domestic abuse.

After facing a lot of backlash for initially saying they would let these stars play while the judicial system ran its course, both teams realized what was financially at stake when corporate partners began to publicize their extreme unhappiness with how the NFL fumbled the ball in dealing with this recent rash of domestic-abuse cases.

Solo is awaiting trial in November after she pleaded not guilty to two counts of gross misdemeanor domestic violence after an alleged assault on her half-sister and 17-year-old nephew last summer in Kirkland, Wash.

But on Thursday night, Solo was in net as Team USA beat Mexico, 4-0, in a friendly in Rochester, N.Y. It was a big night for Solo, who earned her 155th international cap and posted her record 73rd shutout for the USA. She also donned the captain's armband after reaching the milestones.

All of this took place under a cloud of domestic-abuse charges that neither the U.S. Soccer Federation nor ESPN, which televised the game live, deemed fit to address substantially.

This isn't about trying to mitigate what is happening in the NFL. The league has earned all the heat it is taking.

But if we are seriously going to discuss the issue of domestic violence as a nation, we cannot do so if we fail to acknowledge that this issue covers all aspects of our society.

Taking a high-profile entity such as the NFL to task is easy, but should it make a difference if the accused is a female soccer star instead of an NFL player?

If that were the case, the NFL could clean up its act completely and it won't mean anything more than that we can enjoy NFL games on Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays without feeling slimy.

Solving the problem in the NFL while ignoring the issue elsewhere would accomplish little as a whole. If we are going to address domestic abuse, let's address it, regardless of the status of the accused perpetrator.

According to police, Solo's nephew said that, on June 21, the two-time Olympic gold medalist got drunk and escalated a verbal argument into a physical assault in which she charged him, punched him in the face and tackled him.

He said that when his mother, Solo's half-sister, tried to intervene, Solo attacked her. Through her lawyer, Solo said she was not guilty and looked "forward to the opportunity to present the true facts in court."

Photos show bruising and bleeding from the nephew's ear and scars on his mother's neck.

I am not here to judge Solo's innocence or guilt. That will be decided in court.

But, as with Peterson, there was enough evidence to indict Solo and set a trial.

The Vikings determined that now is not a good time for Peterson to be on the field representing their franchise.

When Solo plays with the U.S women's soccer team, she represents you, me and every other American on an international stage.

As of now, Solo likely will be the U.S. goalie in the CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament for the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup, starting Oct. 15 against Trinidad & Tobago.

The USA is the heavy favorite, and will likely reach the semifinals and championship game at PPL Park starting Oct. 24.

Will someone rent a plane to fly over PPL Park to call out USSF president Sunil Gulati the way people have done with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell at recent games?

Will the National Organization for Women ask for Gulati's resignation for refusing to use his power to keep Solo from representing the USA until her case is resolved?

Will ESPN and other media outlets now start to talk about Solo while they continue to circle the NFL like sharks?

Or does a female soccer player going on trial on domestic-abuse charges while still representing the nation not have a high enough profile to slip into the conversation?

Nike suspended its endorsement deal with Peterson without his case yet being heard in court.

"Nike in no way condones child abuse or domestic violence of any kind," spokesperson KeJuan Walker said in a statement announcing the suspension.

What part of "domestic violence of any kind" excludes the allegations against Solo? Nike has yet to do anything about Solo's endorsement contract, even though her case has been known for months.

If you've ever attended a match played by the U.S. women's soccer team, you know thousands of girls in the stands scream in adoration. Their passion for their female soccer heroes is as intense as that for any NFL player.

Solo is one of the USA's biggest stars, and kids are drawn to her.

"I understand that, as a public figure, I am held to a higher standard of conduct," Solo said during the summer. "I take seriously my responsibilities as a role model and sincerely apologize to everyone I have disappointed."

We've heard that a lot over the last couple of weeks.

But given the current climate, how it is OK to showcase Solo to those girl fans - some of whom unfortunately will become victims of the same domestic abuse she is accused of?

I contacted the U.S. Soccer Federation by phone and email in an effort to get a statement on its stance concerning Solo's status, considering her impending domestic-abuse trial.

I have not yet heard back, but, earlier this month, when U.S. Soccer was criticized for honoring Solo's pursuit of the shutout record, communications director Neil Buethe told USA Today: "We are aware that Hope is handling a personal situation at the moment. At the same time, she has an opportunity to set a significant record that speaks to her hard work and dedication over the years with the national team.

"While considering all factors involved, we believe that we should recognize that in the proper way."

The current focus on domestic violence dictates the USSF should do what the Vikings did with Peterson and the Panthers did with Hardy.

Reconsider, and try to get this right.

If we ignore Hope Solo while criticizing the NFL, football might clean up its act, but we will again allow the overall issue of domestic abuse slip back into the shadows.


Email: smallwj@phillynews.com

Columns: ph.ly/Smallwood

Blog: ph.ly/DNL