US' hopes dashed, Solo calls Sweden 'a bunch of cowards'

RIO DE JANEIRO • Hope Solo has had an interesting Olympics - to put it mildly.

Before the Games even began, she had alienated many people in the host country by posing with anti-mosquito gear, a reference to the problems Brazil is experiencing with the Zika virus.

That led to the US women's football team goalkeeper being taunted with cries of "Zika" at every goal kick by Brazilian fans during the tournament.

She then made two errors as the US drew with Colombia in their final group game. On Friday, the 35-year-old really stepped things up in Brasilia.

As the US faced a penalty that would see them crash out of the tournament to Sweden in a shoot-out, Solo claimed she needed to change her gloves.

That forced Lisa Dahlkvist to wait a few minutes to take her spot kick, an uncomfortably long time at such a crucial moment.

The Swede scored anyway and the defending champions were out 4-3 on penalties after the match had ended 1-1 in regulation time.

Solo did not take kindly to the defeat.

"I thought we played a courageous game. I thought we had many opportunities on goal," she said.

"I think we showed a lot of heart. We came back from a goal down, I'm very proud of this team. And I also think we played a bunch of cowards. The best team did not win today, I strongly, firmly believe that."

Solo was asked to clarify her comments and said her issue with the Swedes stemmed from their style of play.

"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... And they tried to counter with long balls."

The goalkeeper was also sceptical of Sweden's chances of going ahead in the tournament.

"I don't think they're going to make it far," she said.

"I think it was very cowardly. But they won, they are moving on and we're going home."

There was widespread criticism of Solo on social media following her comments. She later admitted on Twitter that "losing sucks, I'm really bad at it".

Sweden coach Pia Sundhage, who led the US to gold in 2008 and 2012, was dismissive of Solo's outburst.

"I don't give a crap," she said. "I'm going to Rio, she's going home."

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 14, 2016, with the headline 'US' hopes dashed, Solo calls Sweden 'a bunch of cowards''. Print Edition | Subscribe