U.S. Soccer terminated star goalkeeper Hope Solo’s contract and issued a six-month suspension Wednesday for “conduct that is counter to the organization’s principles” in response to Solo’s comments following a penalty shootout loss to Sweden in Rio earlier this month. The move could signal the end of the 35-year-old’s illustrious national team career. Solo has been the team’s starter in goal for more than a decade, including through three World Cups and three Olympic Games. Solo’s performance off the field, however, has always been more problematic.
Wednesday’s suspension came in response to Solo’s most recent incident where she blasted Sweden’s style of play following an emotional loss in the quarterfinals. Solo said Sweden played like “a bunch of cowards” for playing defensively in an effort to counterbalance the U.S.’s talent advantage. The stunning loss bounced the U.S. from the tournament without a medal after winning three-straight gold medals in Athens (2004), Beijing (2008), and London (2012). “The best team did not win today,’’ Solo continued after the match. “I strongly and firmly believe that.’’
Sweden Coach Pia Sundhage, who knows Solo and the rest of the national team well after coaching them to a gold medal at the 2008 and 2012 games, took the comments in stride. “It’s OK to be a coward if you win,’’ Sundhage said after the game when asked about Solo’s remarks. “They played more attacking football than we did. We defended very well.’’
U.S. Soccer, however, was far less forgiving. “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,” U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said in a statement. “Taking into consideration the past incidents involving Hope, as well as the private conversations we’ve had requiring her to conduct herself in a manner befitting a U.S. national team member, U.S. Soccer determined this is the appropriate disciplinary action.”
This is not the first time Solo has run afoul of U.S. Soccer rules. Solo was suspended from the team last year for 30 days. “In 2007, she was ostracized by the national team for several months after ripping its coach at the time, Greg Ryan, for starting her backup in a World Cup semifinal that the Americans lost, 4-0,” the New York Times notes. “At the 2012 Olympics, she took to Twitter to publicly criticize the former player Brandi Chastain, who was calling the team’s games for NBC.” Then there was Solo’s 2014 arrest for domestic violence.
Solo had this to say about her suspension: