Brazil won’t be sad if Hope Solo skips Olympics due to Zika virus, ex-captain says
Former Brazil captain Aline Pellegrino said her former teammates will not be sad if United States goalkeeper Hope Solo skips the Olympics due to the Zika virus.
Solo and her U.S. teammates must win against Trinidad and Tobago on Friday night to guarantee a place in the tournament this summer. Solo recently told FOX Sports contributor and Sports Illustrated columnist Grant Wahl that if she had to make the choice today, she would not travel to Brazil due to her concerns about the Zika virus.
Pellegrino — a stalwart defender who won a silver medal in the 2004 Olympics in Athens and later took over armband before stepping away from the international scene in 2012 — dismissed those concerns in an interview with USA TODAY Sports this week and noted that her former teammates would not worry if Solo skips the tournament for that reason.
"We all know that Solo likes to be very controversial when she speaks," Pellegrino told USA TODAY Sports. "Maybe she is really worried. But if she chooses not to come to Brazil, the Brazilian national team will not be very sad, as you can imagine.
Several U.S. players and U.S. coach Jill Ellis expressed concerns about the recent outbreak of the mosquito-borne disease in Central and South America. U.S. Soccer held a briefing with the women’s national team players last week to outline the situation. It is unknown at this point whether those concerns will actually prompt Solo or any of her teammates to withdraw if the Americans qualify for Rio on Friday.
Brazilian health officials continue to monitor the spread of the disease and its links to birth defects — including microcephaly, a condition resulting in abnormally small skulls — in the country. Women who are pregnant or who are planning to become pregnant are at particular risk. The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention has warned pregnant women to avoid traveling to countries impacted by the disease, including Brazil.
"In this last 30 years we never managed to defeat the mosquito," Brazil health minister Marcelo Castro told the Associated Press last week. "But this time we’re obligated to prevail because the mosquito has become much more dangerous."