Carlos Bocanegra definitely deserved to get his place amongst legends of the game. But meanwhile, emblematic figures such as Hope Solo got snubbed thanks to unreasonable causes and a bad voting system.
Howbeit, there is more story in this.
Bocanegra was this year’s lone entry to the National Soccer Hall of Fame. The former USMNT captain will have to wait until next year’s combined induction ceremony, though.Embed from Getty Images
This year’s ceremony was obviously postponed because of the global pandemic.
Yet the results of the ballot left people wondering why the committee decided to brazenly snub Solo’s entry. In spite of all the attention that a name like Bocanegra’s encloses, it is almost impossible to talk about fair voting and judgment.
That said, we have to take into consideration the fact that the committee neglected Solo for reasons they can only understand.
Nevertheless, it would be unfair to blame on the 41-year-old Bocanegra, who now works as Atlanta United’s technical director. Solo’s off-pitch behaviour has raised a lot of eyebrows and at times has fostered conflicting opinions around her name.Embed from Getty Images
Solo’s behavior is considered a major drawback
The 39-year-old former international star is not exactly considered a quiet and calm character.
Early in her career, she boldly criticized then-USWNT coach Greg Ryan for selecting 99ers legend Briana Scurry instead of her. More recently, she drew attention for calling Sweden’s national team “cowards” after their majestic defensive display knocked the USWNT out of the 2016 Olympics.
All in all, Solo has stood out for her propensity for drama.
Back in June 2014, Solo was arrested and charged with two misdemeanor counts of assault in the fourth degree against family members.
The whole story kept Solo in the shadows of domestic violence, until finally the judge dismissed the charges four years later.
Not only did her off-pitch behavior not help her in the HOF voting, but also when she ran for US Soccer presidency back in February 2018. During her outspoken run, she targeted eventual president Carlos Cordeiro for not doing enough for women’s football.Embed from Getty Images
As a player, Solo had a terrific 16 years of playing football at the highest level.
Her remarkable achievements speak for themselves. She’s a two-time Olympic gold medalist and a 2015 World Cup champion. At the 2011 and 2015 World Cups, she won Golden Glove award. She was also named to the FIFA Pro Best XI (2015 and 2016) and named as the IFFHS Best Women’s GK for four years straight (2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015). Her 102 shutouts are the most among US goalkeepers. And let’s not to forget her 153 national team wins, which still stands as an individual record to this day.
How Soccer HOF works
In 2020, class voters had to choose among 42 finalists on the players ballot. But this time there were no players elected in the veteran and builder categories.
Among the 300 voters, there were members of media, current Hall of Famers, head coaches with a minimum of four years of experience at the highest domestic level, MLS Commissioner Don Garber and US Soccer Federation President Carlos Cordeiro.Embed from Getty Images
After learning the news Bocanegra said, “I wasn’t expecting it, but I’m really proud to be elected.”
Voters had to select up to 10 nominees, who then must be included on 66.7% of submitted ballots to be inducted.
Former Hannover 96 captain Bocanegra managed to accumulate 68.5%, while Solo collected 57.3% of the votes.
Why the NSHOF voting system cries out for change
Tuesday’s outrageous decision highlighted some of the blatant flaws the current NSHOF voting system has.
Last year, Abby Wambach was elected after getting 80.9% of the votes. She was the unchallenged winner.
Nonetheless, that roughly translates to one out of five voters failing to admit that the all-time top leading scorer of the USA in both women and men, was not worthy of taking her deserved place next to America’s greatest legends.
Once again, the shortcomings of the committee were apparent this year as they failed to pick the person most fit for induction. It especially proves the deliberate refusal to admit the paramountcy of a woman football player. Changes are now compelling.
On one hand, the increase in voter turnout to more than 80% this year (it was 35% last year) did not really have a positive impact on the final results.
On the other hand, the organization is working on a newly revised voting procedure. This will hopefully pave the way to the HOF for more legends like Shannon Boxx, Steve Cherundolo, Kate Markgraf and obviously Solo.
How to fix the problematic voting procedure
Firstly, voters should make use of their precious votes. Twenty percent of the voters failed to submit their picks in time in this year’s ballot. By forbidding people from voting, you secure the ballot and secure a fair assessment for the candidates.
Secondly, transparency is key. If the Baseball Writers’ Association of America was able to remove the secrecy that surrounded their ballot then so can the National Soccer HOF. Right now, we sit in the dark while voters never reveal their true motives that drive them to vote for one athlete over another.
Last but not least, they ought to augment the number of inductees. As long as the voting data remain a concealed secret, the outcome will remain the same. The HOF needs to remain vivid and alive, not a relic of the past glories. For the fifth time in the past six years, only one player has been elected from the player ballot. A great idea would be to have a minimum number of names on ballots.
Those three ideas would open those heavy gates on more worthy candidates and will wreck the monopoly and ignorance of misogynistic voters.
We see people saying that the HOF ballot did the right thing by snubbing Hope Solo just because of her character. In this case, that same moral should be applied to both women and men, right? If so, men such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, or Neymar should never win anything, right? Of course not.
Women athletes deserve to be treated equally and with the same high standards men have. They are here to prove their athletic abilities and that’s what we admire. So let’s focus on that.
Besides, what’s the whole point of the Hall of Fame? It’s for fans to reminisce and worship their idols, remember them as the sports’ greatest legends.
“It does nothing to weaken my fight,” said Solo to The Atheletic. After all, she’s dealt with this sort of thing before and she is surely not going to let that stand in her way.
One thing we know for sure is that if Solo doesn’t deserve that legacy, nor does anyone else.