Suspended United States women’s national team goalkeeper Hope Solo said she immediately apologised for calling Sweden a “bunch of cowards” at the Olympic Games in Rio as she attempted to explain what transpired following that fateful match.
Controversial American Solo sparked outrage when she hit out at Sweden for their defensive style that saw USA eliminated in the quarter-finals of Rio 2016 after a penalty shoot-out.
Solo’s comments led to her receiving a six-month suspension from US Soccer due to “conduct that is counter to the organization’s principles”.
But the 35-year-old veteran claims Sweden were not offended by her comments, not at least captain Lotta Schelin.
“I wasn’t enraged, I wasn’t emotional, I wasn’t angry,” Solo said on Swedish talk show Skavlan. “I just had this conversation with all of the journalists in the room after the game, and we were talking about the style of play.
“I didn’t mean to come across that the players were cowards or the coach was a coward. I meant that the style of play was not very Olympic-spirited.
“I think Lotta Schelin is one of the best players in the world — one of the best attacking players in the world. So it was really difficult to watch her drop back defensively, and I saw her most of the time in the 18-yard box in her defense.
“And I wanted her to attack me, I wanted to play against Lotta. I wanted to try to stop her shots. I love the competitive nature between America and Sweden.”
Solo added: “I said to her, ‘You know, Lotta, I said something. I used the word cowards when talking about you guys, and I didn’t mean that. I’m so sorry. And she was like, ‘Oh, I know you, don’t worry about it. Don’t worry about it.’
“And she’s like, ‘Look, the American team has been in the last five championship games in the Olympics.’ Five championships! And she’s like, ‘For us to beat a better-skilled team like Brazil and like America, we had to drop back defensively.’
“And she knew it, but for the most part, we just hugged and we laughed and she accepted my apology. She didn’t even think I needed to apologize.”