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Hope Solo Suspended for Calling Soccer Opponents ‘Cowards’ at Rio Olympics

U.S. women’s national team goalkeeper Hope Solo has been suspended for six months by the U.S. Soccer Federation for derisive comments she made during the Rio Olympics.

After an upset loss to Sweden in the Olympic quarterfinals, Solo called her opponents “a bunch of cowards.” She added, “the best team did not win today.”

“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 Wednesday. “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.”

In addition to the suspension, U.S. Soccer terminated Solo’s contract with the national team.

In a Facebook post, the three-time Olympian said she was “saddened” by the Federation’s decision to terminate her contact.

“I could not be the player I am without being the person I am, even when I haven’t made the best choices or said the right things,” she wrote. “My entire career, I have only wanted the best for this team, for the players and the women’s game and I will continue to pursue these causes with the same unrelenting passion with which I play the game.”

Solo was a member of the national team for 17 years, and part of the gold medal winning Olympic squads in 2008 and 2012. She was one of the most well recognized Olympians on Team USA.

National women’s team player representative Rich Nichols argued Solo was being held to a double standard. “She was fired for making comments that no man would have been fired for making,” Nicols told USA Today. “It’s a draconian penalty.” Nichols vowed to appeal the suspension.

This is the second time Solo has been suspended by U.S. Soccer. She was previously suspended for 30 days in 2015 after police pulled her and husband Jerramy Stevens over. Stevens was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. As the passenger, Solo was not charged, but she reportedly acted belligerently.

Solo is still eligible to play in the National Women’s Soccer League. She is the goalkeeper for the Seattle Reign.

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