Throughout her long and occasionally controversial career with the United States women’s soccer team, Hope Solo has developed a reputation for not holding back with her opinions.
Whether discussing coaching decisions or Zika, sharing her forthright views has often put Solo in the crosshairs of public opinion, and she added another talking point for her detractors on Friday after the USA suffered a shock loss to Sweden at Rio 2016.
In the aftermath of the defending champions’ quarter-final penalty shootout loss, Solo said she believed the best team had failed to win and that Sweden played like “cowards”.
“We came back from a goal down. I’m very proud of this team,” she said. “But I also think we played a bunch of cowards. The best team did not win today. I strongly believe that.”
Asked to expand on her “cowards” comment, Solo responded: “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 game plan was.
“We had that style of play when Pia [Sundhage] 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.”
Solo likely did not endear herself to the Swedish team or her former coach Sundhage by changing her gloves in the middle of the penalty shootout.
Thus ends a turbulent Olympics for Solo, who was jeered mercilessly by Brazilian fans throughout the tournament for her repeated comments and social media posts the last few months about the Zika threat in the country.