Hope Solo has been suspended by U.S. Soccer for six months. The federation announced that the United States goalkeeper would be banned from the national team until February of next year after the comments she made about Sweden following the Americans' loss in the Olympic quarterfinals, when she called the Swedes “cowards.”
“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,” said U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati 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.
“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.”
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The U.S. were beaten by Sweden in penalty kicks at the Olympics. In that match, the Americans had the bulk of possession, while Sweden played defensively and looked to score on the counterattack.
“I'm proud of this team. But I also think we played a bunch of cowards,” Solo said. “The best team did not win today. I strongly believe that.”
Solo and USWN Players Association executive director Rich Nichols both released statements to Sports Illustrated.
Solo's history of controversial comments goes back to the 2007 World Cup, when she publicly criticized her manager for starting Briana Scurry at goalkeeper in a semifinal loss to Brazil. After that, the team agreed that Solo would not be with the team for the third place match. She also found herself in hot water prior to the 2016 Olympics, when she made comments about Zika virus. The Brazil fans at matches during the games heckled her for throughout the tournament.
While Gulati did not comment on which past incidents the federation took into account when deciding to hand her a six-month suspension or what the conversations with her were like, it was only last year that U.S. Soccer suspended Solo for 30 days for an incident during training camp. Six months may seem harsh for post-game comments, but Gulati made a point that past problems and conversations that they have had with Solo were taken into account.
Solo is 35 years old and with three years before the next major women's tournament — the 2019 World Cup — there are questions about whether she will still be the U.S. goalkeeper by then. While that is still to be determined, she certainly won't be the Americans' goalkeeper for the next six months. After that, we'll see.
Updated with comments from Solo and Nichols – 8:45 p.m. ET