Hope Solo was given a six-month suspension Wednesday by U.S. Soccer for “unacceptable” comments following the U.S. women’s national team’s quarterfinal loss to Sweden during the Rio Olympics. The outspoken goalkeeper described her opponents as “a bunch of cowards” for riding a conservative game plan to an upset win in a shootout.
Solo also had her USWNT contract terminated, getting three months’ severance pay. The executive director of the USWNT Players Association, Rich Nichols, said (via Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl) that it will appeal both the suspension and the termination. Union officials “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,” Nichols said.
“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 U.S. national team member, U.S. Soccer determined this is the appropriate disciplinary action.”
The suspension is effective immediately and means that the 35-year-old Solo cannot play again for the women’s national team until February 2017 at the earliest. Given the severity of Wednesday’s actions, there appears to be a good chance that Solo never plays for the team again. She remains eligible to play for and draw a salary from her club team, the NWSL’s Seattle Reign.
Solo previously received a one-month suspension by U.S. Soccer in January 2015 for an unspecified reason following an incident that resulted in a DUI charge for her husband, ex-NFL player Jerramy Stevens, while she was a passenger. In June, Solo was denied by a Washington state judge in her attempt to have a discretionary review to dismiss two fourth-degree domestic violence charges, stemming from a June 2014 incident involving her half-sister and that woman’s then-17-year-old son.
After the U.S. team, which she helped lead to the 2015 World Cup title, was ousted from the Olympics, Solo said, “I think we showed a lot of heart. … But I also think we played a bunch of cowards. The best team did not win today.”
USWNT Coach Jill Ellis and U.S. Soccer CEO/Secretary General Dan Flynn reportedly traveled to Seattle to personally deliver the news of the suspension and contract termination to Solo.