Hope Solo is no stranger to controversy. She’s been one of the most discussed and controversial players on the U.S. Women’s National Team for both her actions and her words over the years.
She’s also an incredibly fierce competitor, which is why it’s no surprise Solo had some punchy things to say after the U.S. fell in penalty kicks to Sweden in the Olympic quarterfinals, the worst showing for the U.S. in the Olympics.
Speaking with press after the game, Solo noted the number of opportunities the United States had in this match, stating, "I thought we played a courageous game. 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 she was also quick to criticize Sweden and their coach Pia Sundhage, who was the U.S. coach for four years.
"I also think we played a bunch of cowards. The better team did not win today. I strongly believe that. I think you saw American heart. You saw us give everything we had today," Solo said, according to Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl.
When pressed about why she believes the Swedish side played like cowards, Solo talked about their decision to bunker and defend — noting that this was a similar style of play the U.S. deployed when Sundhage was their coach and they had Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan up top as target forwards.
"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," Solo said.
Full Hope Solo quote on Sweden after US was eliminated from the Olympics today. pic.twitter.com/UZVCAeur6m— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) August 12, 2016
Grant Wahl had the opportunity to follow up with Solo after these remarks, where she reiterated her belief in the team, noting, "Things don’t always go the way you want them to. Such is life, and such is sport."
Hope also took to Twitter to clarify her comment, as her "coward" quote was quickly spreading on social media, and Solo believed that was without the context of her full remarks.
Should Solo have called out Sweden like she did? No. She shouldn’t have called them cowards. But Solo certainly is not the first player to say something silly after losing an important match. In fact, just recently, Cristiano Ronaldo said Iceland had a "small mentality" after Portugal and Iceland played to a draw in the Euros.
And comments like this from FOX Sports Anchor Julie Stewart-Binks don’t help. Women’s soccer isn’t just for little girls. TV viewership numbers from the Olympics and World Cup confirm this. But there’s often a double standard for female athletes to both perform at a high level and be perfect role models, which doesn’t exist for most male players.
Of course she's frustrated, but no excuse for acting so ungraciously. Esp w/ millions of little girls watching. https://t.co/rvDWv7HBVR— Julie Stewart-Binks (@JSB_FOX) August 12, 2016
Losing sucks. And Hope Solo admitted she’s bad at it. So let’s enjoy the rest of the women’s soccer matches over the next week, then return our attention to the NWSL, where the Seattle Reign are currently sitting on the edge of a playoff spot with five matches remaining.