Hope Solo, never afraid to speak her mind, called the Swedish women’s soccer team “cowards” Friday after the Swedes knocked the U.S. out of the Olympics in a penalty kick shootout.
Sports Illustrated reporter Grant Wahl tweeted out Solo’s full statement after the 1-1 draw that ended with a 4-3 shootout victory for Sweden.
Full Hope Solo quote on Sweden after US was eliminated from the Olympics today. pic.twitter.com/UZVCAeur6m— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) August 12, 2016
“I thought that we played a courageous game,” Solo reportedly said. “I thought 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.
“But I also think we played a bunch of cowards. The best team did not win today. I strongly believe that. I think you saw American heart. You saw us give everything we had today.”
So why were the Swedes “cowards?”
“Sweden dropped off. They didn’t want to open play. They didn’t want to pass the ball. They didn’t want to play great soccer. It was a combative game, a physical game. Exactly what they wanted and exactly what their gameplan was. They dropped into a 50. They didn’t try and press. They didn’t want to open the game. And they tried to counter with longballs. We had that style of play when Pia (Sundhage, Sweden’s coach) was our coach. I don’t think they’re going to make it far in the tournament. I think it was very cowardly. But they won. They're moving on, and we’re going home."
Sometimes reports like this are followed with an athlete saying they were taken out of context. But Solo jumped on social media and corroborated the reporting.
"This was the full context of my comments today," said Solo in a tweet. "Losing sucks. I'm really bad at it."
Sundhage, who coached the U.S. to gold medals in 2008 and 2012, reportedly responded, “I don't give a crap. I'm going to Rio, she's going home.”
If you think Solo’s criticism of Sundhage comes out of nowhere, Sundhage had some thoughts of her own last year about her former goalkeeper.
Hope Solo, whose various off-field disciplinary issues lingered over the run-up to the World Cup, and burst into the open again this week, was one of the most challenging players Sundhage has ever coached, “especially when it comes to trouble,” wrote Sam Borden of the New York Times in June 2015
Solo, who has endured near-constant taunts of "Zika! Zika!" for a week, has courted controversy for her comments in the past. And on Friday, she was also criticized for changing her gloves during the penalty shootout.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.