Hope Solo Suspended From US Soccer For Six Months After Calling Opponents "Cowards"
Solo, the star goalkeeper of the US women's national team, drew fire for calling out the Swedish team at the Olympics in Rio.
Soccer star Hope Solo will be suspended from the US national team for six months, US soccer announced on Wednesday.
Solo later told fans that her contract with the soccer federation had also been terminated. US Soccer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Solo came under fire for calling her Swedish opponents "cowards" at the Olympics. The Swedish team beat the US in penalty kicks, and Solo later said that she objected to their closed style of play.
"We played a bunch of cowards," Solo said after losing on Aug. 12. "The best team did not win today, I strongly, firmly believe that."
On Wednesday, US Soccer officials said that her conduct was counter to the organization's principles.
“The comments by Hope Solo after the match against Sweden during the 2016 Olympics were unacceptable and do not meet the standard of conduct we require from our National Team players,” US Soccer President Sunil Gulati said in a statement. “Beyond the athletic arena, and beyond the results, the Olympics celebrate and represent the ideals of fair play and respect. We expect all of our representatives to honor those principles, with no exceptions."
In response, Solo said that she had dedicated her life to women's soccer with passion and tenacity. She admitted that she had not always made the best choices, and she said she was saddened by the soccer federation's decision to terminate her contract.
"For 17 years, I dedicated my life to the U.S. Women's National Team and did the job of a pro athlete the only way I knew how — with passion, tenacity, an unrelenting commitment to be the best goalkeeper in the world, no just for my country, but to elevate the sport for the next generation of female athletes," Solo wrote. "In those commitments, I have never wavered."
The contract terminates Solo's position on the national team; she may continue to play with her club team, the Seattle Reign, Sports Illustrated reported.
A spokesman for the women's national team players' association told Sports Illustrated the discipline Solo received was unprecedented and excessive.
"We also question whether this action would ever have been taken against a male player or coach, who, in the heated moments after a frustrating defeat, questioned the tactics of the opposing team," the players' association Rich Nichols said. "Needless to say, we will file an appeal on Ms. Solo's behalf."
In March, Solo joined teammates in filing a wage discrimination lawsuit against US Soccer. The suit argued that the women's national team brought in more revenue for the federation, but female players were paid less than their male counterparts.
At the Rio games, Solo was the target of protests for her outspoken social media posts about the Zika virus. Spectators chanted "Zika" at her during Olympic games.
But that controversy was relatively mild compared to previous headlines surrounding Solo. The 35-year-old had faced charges of domestic violence after she was accused of attacking her sister and nephew. The case was later dropped.
She was also previously suspended by US Soccer for 30 days after her husband was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving in a team van. Solo was with him at the time and reportedly acted belligerently toward police.
US Soccer officials said the goalie's previous suspension was taken into account as they determined appropriate discipline for her Olympics comments.