Soccer Fans Taunt Hope Solo With ‘Zika' Chants During Team USA's Olympic Opener

The goalie tweeted a photo of herself wearing a hat with mosquito netting and another of dozens of packs of mosquito repellent

Hope Solo said she was not bothered by fans who chanted "Zika, Zika" at her as the U.S. women's soccer team defeated New Zealand in its Olympic debut on Wednesday.

The crowd of nearly 10,000 fans at the 60,000-capacity Mineirão Stadium in the capital city of Belo Horizonte in Minas Gerais jeered the goalkeeper with the reference to the virus that has scared many athletes ahead of the Rio Games.

"I'm glad the fans had fun," Solo said. "And if they had fun at my expense, more power to them."

Solo upset some Brazilians before coming to the Olympics by tweeting a photo of herself wearing a hat with mosquito netting. She also posted a photo of dozens of packs of mosquito repellent that she was packing for her trip to Brazil.

The soccer player has been outspoken about the Zika virus, telling CNBC in May that she decided to "begrudgingly" participate in this year's summer games in Rio de Janeiro, but added that athletes shouldn't have to choose between the Olympics and their health.

She made amends a few days before the games, blaming the American media for spreading fear about Zika and other problems ahead of the Rio Games. She said the media was being "really tough on people of Brazil."

The veteran goalkeeper said she didn't realize during the game that the fans were chanting "Zika," and thought they were only yelling a common slur that local clubs sometimes use against goalkeepers at goal kicks.

"I normally don't pay attention to what's happening in the stand because I'm so focused on the game," Solo added.

Some of the fans were indeed yelling the slur early in the game, but later the majority of the crowd started with the "Zika" chant, which was also repeated after the final whistle.

"That's something hopefully they will put behind them and realize that Hope has apologized to the Brazilian people," U.S. coach Jill Ellis said of the fans. "Sometimes mistakes are made. We are used to getting booed in other countries, so that part of it is not foreign. I hope the Brazilian people appreciate what we are trying to do with the ball and move past that."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us