The United States Soccer Federation announced Wednesday that it has suspended Hope Solo for six months for her comments after the U.S. women’s national team’s Olympic quarterfinal loss to Sweden.
Solo’s U.S. national team contract has also been terminated, though she reportedly will still be able to play for her club team, the NWSL’s Seattle Reign.
Solo, 35, released the following statement on Twitter:
The suspension comes almost two weeks after Solo said the following:
“I thought that we played a courageous game. I thought we had many opportunities on goal. I think we showed a lot of heart. We came back from a goal down. I’m very proud of this team. But I also think we played a bunch of cowards. The best team did not win today. I strongly believe that. I think you saw American heart. You saw us give everything we had today.
“Sweden dropped off. They didn’t want to open play. They didn’t want to pass the ball. They didn’t want to play great soccer. It was a combative game, a physical game. Exactly what they wanted and exactly what their gameplan was. They dropped into a 50. They didn’t try and press. They didn’t want to open the game. And they tried to counter with long balls. We had that style of play when [Sweden coach Pia Sundhage] was our coach. I don’t think they’re going to make it far in the tournament. I think it was very cowardly. But they won. They’re moving on, and we’re going home.”
U.S. Women’s National Team Players Association director Rich Nichols told Wahl that an appeal would be filed:
SI: Response to Hope Solo suspension from Rich Nichols, executive director, USWNT Players Association pic.twitter.com/ZOPsYgSCk7
— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) August 25, 2016
U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati said in a statement that he had private conversations with Solo about her conduct — which has also been controversial in the past — and that those played into the suspension.
“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,” Gulati said. “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.
“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.”
Some of Solo’s teammates spoke out publicly about a week after the Sweden game, saying they were disappointed with Solo’s comments. “That’s not our team,” midfielder Megan Rapinoe said. “That’s not what this team has always been. That’s not what this team will be in the future.
“It’s frustrating sometimes as an athlete, you’re thrust into the spotlight, and I think this team has always done a really amazing job of understanding that we have this incredible platform, let’s do something good with it. Let’s inspire, let’s be badass, let’s be fierce, let’s be competitive. But we’re gracious and we’re humble, and we play the game a certain way, whether we win or lose. And we’ve been on the winning side quite a bit, and when we find ourselves on the other side, we need to handle that graciously, and unfortunately that wasn’t the case.”
Former U.S. national team player and current ESPN analyst Julie Foudy was also critical of Solo in the immediate aftermath. “I shook my head. I thought, why is that necessary?” Foudy said. “There’s a long history and tradition with our national team of respecting others when you lose, so I don’t agree with it at all… To call them cowards for playing a tactically smart game is ridiculous and classless, and it really doesn’t represent the house that we built with the U.S. team.”
It’s not the first national team suspension for Solo. The U.S.’s top goalkeeper was also suspended for 30 days last year for an “incident” during a January training camp. Solo was reportedly in a car with her husband, former NFL player Jerramy Stevens, when Stevens was pulled over at 2 a.m., arrested and charged with driving under the influence.
That incident came a year after Solo was accused of domestic violence following an altercation with her half-sister and 17-year-old nephew. Those charges were eventually dismissed, but that decision was reversed on appeal. The case is still in court.
The six-month ban might take into account the 2015 suspension and the 2014 incident, as well as comments from Solo in the past. She infamously criticized coaches after being benched for Briana Scurry in a 2007 World Cup semifinal. “It was the wrong decision, and I think anybody that knows anything about the game knows that,” she said in 2007. “There’s no doubt in my mind I would have made those saves. And the fact of the matter is it’s not 2004 anymore. … It’s 2007, and I think you have to live in the present. And you can’t live by big names. You can’t live in the past.”