The U.S. Women’s National Team soccer coach describes Hope Solo’s sore-loser comments at the Olympics as the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Jill Ellis addressed the controversy surrounding the dismissal of her former goalkeeper with Sports Illustrated‘s Grant Wahl on Tuesday. Solo received a six-month suspension after calling the Swedish team “a bunch of cowards” because they employed a cautious, defensive strategy to beat the U.S. team in a shootout at the Olympics in Brazil. The team also terminated Solo’s contract in the wake of the remarks.
“Over time, there’s been off-the-field distractions, and the federation has taken action,” Ellis explains. “Each time action has been taken, there’s been made clear an expectation that this would be the last time such step would be necessary. Sadly, Hope’s postgame comments forced us to make a significant decision. It wasn’t a decision just made about comments. It was a sum total of action that have unfortunately shown a negative light on our program.”
Distractions include Solo riding as a passenger in a U.S. Soccer van when police arrested her husband for driving under the influence in 2015 and domestic violence allegations against Solo by a half-sister and nephew the previous year. Prior to the Olympics, Solo brought attention to herself by dressing up in an elaborate, screened-in suit and toting bug repellent indicating her readiness for the games, and Zika, in Brazil. This led to chants of “Zika” whenever she touched the ball in Brazil.
Solo served as the go-to goalie for the women’s team for more than a decade. She won two Olympic golds and a World Cup minding net for the women’s team.
Ironically, Solo vocally endorsed the idea of pulling aging veteran goalies in favor of up-and-coming talent earlier in her career.
“The fact of the matter is it’s not 2004 anymore,” Solo said about her coach going with Briana Scurry instead of her in a 2007 loss at the World Cup. “It’s not 2004. And it’s 2007, and I think you have to live in the present. And you can’t live by big names. You can’t live in the past. It doesn’t matter what somebody did in an Olympic gold medal game in the Olympics three years ago. Now is what matters.”
By 35, her perspective on loyalty to big-name veterans had changed dramatically. She angrily explained upon hearing the news of her terminated contract: “Seventeen f—ing years and it’s over!”