Hope Solo’s soccer suspension is fair and justified

American soccer player Hope Solo was suspended, and the U.S. Women’s National Team terminated her current contract on Aug. 24 after she called her Swedish Olympic opponents “cowards.” After this most recent development in a string of controversies involving the athlete, Solo stepped down from her professional league, the Seattle Reign, on Aug. 30.

It’s easy to call the verdict unfair and sexist. Instead of being punished, male athletes are often praised for aggressive comments, or “trash talking.” Even Vice Sports, not known for its feminist outlook, recognized that in an Aug. 25 commentary. However, Solo has a history of disrespectful behavior and is under investigation for the alleged domestic abuse of her half-sister and then-17-year-old nephew in June 2014. The reprimand for her remarks is justified, as the public would not tolerate a domestic abuse charge against a male athlete either.

It’s impossible not to compare Solo’s punishment with Olympian Ryan Lochte’s after the U.S. National Swimming team ignored his recent scandal. Lochte reported a robbery Aug. 14 during the Rio Olympics later found to be fabricated and is being charged by Brazilian police. Many of his sponsors, such as Speedo and Ralph Lauren, have terminated his contracts, but he should face official punishment from his league.  This is especially true in light of his new contracts with crime-prevention device company ROBOCOPP, throat lozenge company Pine Bros. and his upcoming debut as a contestant on next season of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.” Without team punishment, it looks as if Lochte is being rewarded for star status instead of reprimanded for his poor choices.

During the Olympics, athletes have higher standards of sportsmanship as global representatives for their countries. Solo showed poor judgment and disrespect toward her fellow athletes and was properly reprimanded for it. A suspension may seem severe for heated, angry comments, but in light of her aggressive and violent history, the punishment makes sense.

Lochte deserves a reprimand, too. Unlike Solo, he was not engaged in competition at the time, but his personal choices reflected poorly on the United States. His contempt for Brazilian property and the country’s justice system reinforce negative images of Americans that do not belong in global forums like the Olympics.

The difference in how these cases were handled by their respective teams is indicative of a bigger problem, likely related to gender and sexism. Rio Olympic spokesman Mario Andrada made a public statement on Aug. 18 calling 32-year-old Lochte and his teammates “kids” and asking the public to give them “a break.”  The two athletes committed very different acts of ignorance and disrespect, but it’s wrong to say Lochte is a child when he is capable of taking responsibility for his actions, just as Solo is.

Solo’s punishment is not a sexist reaction to women showing aggression but the correct response to an Olympic athlete not representing the U.S. with grace and dignity. Lochte should be subject to a similar suspension and his disrespect should be taken seriously.