The U.S. women’s national soccer team opened up its Rio Olympics play on Wednesday with a win over New Zealand in group play.
Hope Solo the starting goalie for the U.S. was teased off and on by fans that chanted “ Zika, Zika.”
The crowd was close to 10,000 at the stadium that holds up to 60,000. They jeered and at times booed Solo in reference to the mosquito-borne virus that has scared a number of the athletes leading up to the Games.
Following the match, Solo said she was happy that fans had had fun and if that was at her expense good for them.
Some Brazilians were upset by Solo prior to her arriving at the Rio Olympics. She tweeted an image of herself wearing mosquito netting and a hat. She posted as well a photo of dozens of mosquito repellant packs that she had said she had been packing for her Rio trip.
She was able to make some amends a couple of days prior to the start of the games by blaming the media in the U.S. for spreading so much fear over Zika, as well as other problems leading up to the games.
She said U.S. media had been very tough on Brazilians and their country.
Solo is a veteran goalkeeper for the U.S. team and said she was unaware during the match that fans had been chanting Zika to her and thought they had been yelling a slur that was common that local clubs use against the goalkeepers during goal kicks.
Some fans had been indeed yelling that common slur earlier in the match, but later most of the crowd began yelling the chant of Zika, which continued even following the matches’ conclusion.
Jill Ellis the coach of the U.S. team said that she hopes the fans will put that kind of thing behind them and realize an apology has been made by Solo.
Sometimes mistakes are made, she added. The U.S. team however, is used to being booed when playing in other countries, so that is not foreign to them said Ellis.
Solo was extremely vocal at one point about Zika and at one time criticized the IOC for not having the games moved out of Manaus, which has been struggling with trying to control the mosquito population.
At one point, Solo said she might not ever leave her room at the athlete’s village except to train and play.