U.S. Soccer terminated goalkeeper Hope Solo's contract on Wednesday and suspended her from the Women's National Team for six months, in response to negative comments she made about the Swedish soccer team during the Rio Olympics.
After Sweden beat America in the women's tournament quarterfinals, Solo slammed the opposing team while speaking with sports writer Grant Whal, calling them "a bunch of cowards," and opining that "the best team did not win today."
"I thought that we played a courageous game. I thought we had many opportunities on goal. I think we showed a lot of heart," Solo said at the time. "But I also think we played a bunch of 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… I don't think they're going to make it far in the tournament."
Sweden actually ended up making to the Olympic finals, where they lost 2-1 against Germany and took home the silver medal.
In a statement regarding their decision, U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said that Solo's remarks were "unacceptable and do not meet the standard of conduct we require from our National Team players."
"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," Gulati continued.
After news of the suspension and contract termination broke, Solo addressed the developments in a message posted to Twitter, expressing that she is "saddened by the Federation's decision to terminate my contract."
"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," Solo's statement continued. "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."
Rich Nichols, the general counsel for the women's national team's players association, also addressed the federation's decision, calling it "excessing, unprecedented, disproportionate, and a violation of Ms. Solo’s First Amendment rights."
Nichols said that USWNT players association questions "whether this action would ever has 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 went on to confirm that the association will file an appeal on Solo's behalf.
SI: Response to Hope Solo suspension from Rich Nichols, executive director, USWNT Players Association pic.twitter.com/ZOPsYgSCk7— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) August 25, 2016
Aside from her questionable remarks about the Swedish soccer team, Solo faced controversy before the Rio Games even began after sharing a serious of Instagram pics wearing mosquito netting over her face and holding a huge bottle of insect repellent which she captioned with the hashtag "#ZikaProof."
The posts, which many in Brazil found offensive, lead to Solo being met with a loud chorus of boos and insults every time she touched the ball during a game.