U.S. Soccer Wednesday banned goalkeeper Hope Solo, a member of the Seattle Reign, former University of Washington star and long-time Kirkland resident, for six months from the national women’s team for what the organization described as ” conduct that is counter to the organization’s principles.”
After the U.S. was eliminated from the Olympic soccer tourney earlier this month in a penalty shootout, the 35-year-old Solo ripped the winning team, Sweden, calling it “a bunch of 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,” U.S. 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.
“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 team member, U.S. Soccer determined this is the appropriate disciplinary action.”
Solo’s suspension is effective immediately.
Solo was previously suspended for 30 days early in 2015 for conduct related to an incident at the team’s training camp.
The U.S. women dominated time of possession against Sweden in the quarterfinals, but Sweden scored on a counterattack in regulation, one of only two shots on goal it had in the game. After playing to a 1-1 stalemate over 120 minutes, Sweden edged the U.S. 4-3 in the shootout, launching a huge rant by Solo.
“I thought that we played a courageous game,” Solo said. “I thought that 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.
“I also think we played a bunch of cowards. But, you know, the best team did not win today. I strongly believe that. I think you saw America’s heart. You saw us give everything that we had today. Unfortunately the better team didn’t win.”
Former U.S. star and ESPN analyst Julie Foudy criticized Solo in the aftermath of the loss.
“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.”
Solo is a two-time Olympic gold medalist and a World Cup gold medalist.