U.S. Soccer has terminated goalkeeper Hope Solo's national team contract and banned her for six months after her controversial comments at the Olympics, the federation announced Wednesday.
U.S. women’s coach Jill Ellis and U.S. Soccer general secretary Dan Flynn met with Solo, 35, in Seattle on Wednesday afternoon and gave her the news, which comes with three months of severance pay. She'll be eligible for reinstatement and a new contract on February. The move follows Solo’s comments at the Olympics when she called the Swedish players “cowards” for their defensive style in eliminating the U.S. in the quarterfinals.
Solo, who received public criticism from teammate Megan Rapinoe and U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati for her comments, did not apologize for them.
“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 in a press release. “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.”
Gulati continued: “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.”
Solo and U.S. women's national team player representative Rich Nichols gave their responses to SI:
Solo, the most dominant goalkeeper in women’s soccer history, has won one World Cup title and two Olympic gold medals in a U.S. career that has included 202 national team appearances and 102 clean sheets. Both are the most ever internationally for a goalkeeper, male or female.
Solo has been involved in controversy as well. At the 2007 World Cup, U.S. coach Greg Ryan benched her for the semifinal against Brazil after she had started every game. Solo lashed out publicly after the U.S.’s 4-0 loss and was shunned by her teammates, but ultimately Ryan lost his job and Solo was welcomed back to the U.S. team under coach Pia Sundhage and won a gold medal in 2008.
As coincidence would have it, Solo’s controversial remarks at this Olympics were about Sundhage’s Sweden team.
After Solo’s standout performance at the 2011 World Cup, where the U.S. finished second, she became a breakout personality and ended up on Dancing With The Stars. But in 2014 she was accused of a fourth-degree domestic violence offense in an incident involving her nephew and half-sister. That case has yet to be resolved. In early 2015, Solo was suspended for 30 days by U.S. Soccer after she and her husband, Jerramy Stevens, were stopped in a U.S. team van that Stevens was driving in Los Angeles. He was charged with DUI and served three days in jail.
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Solo was part of an impressive U.S. defensive display in winning the 2015 World Cup, but her performance in the 2016 Olympics was mixed. She made some huge saves in the U.S.’s 1-0 group-stage victory against France, but Solo’s howler against Colombia cost the U.S. two points in a 2-2 tie.
Solo will still play for her NWSL club team, the Seattle Reign.