FULL INTERVIEW: USWNT’s Hope Solo in lion’s den on Swedish TV

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If you can’t beat them, but also aren’t allowed to play domestically, join them.

That could be the case for suspended USWNT goalkeeper Hope Solo, who is pondering offers abroad.

Those include clubs in Sweden, whose national team Solo famously blasted for playing like “a bunch of cowards” in the USWNT’s elimination from the Summer Olympics. Solo says she hopes Sweden would welcome her if it comes to that.

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Solo was suspended six months for the aforementioned comments, and had her contract terminated by U.S. Soccer.

She joined Norwegian talk show host Fredrik Skavlan late Friday to talk about all of that, and the crowd had a laugh as the host opened the conversation by saying, “You are very famous in Sweden.”

She apologized for using the words “cowards” but went onto defend her original position. She said that by “cowards” she meant “not Olympic-spirited”.

Yep. Totally the same thing.

“If anyone actually listened to the interview, and I’m not sure if you have, I wasn’t enraged, I wasn’t emotional, I wasn’t angry. I Just had this conversation with the journalists in the room after the game,” Solo says. “I didn’t mean to come across that the players were cowards or the coach was a coward. I meant the style of play wasn’t very Olympic-spirited.”

Moving on from that, there was a very layered discussion on her suspension and — oddly enough — it was another American guest in Tyra Banks who phrased this probing question:

“There are people in American sports, men, who have said and done the most crazy violent things,” Banks said. “They get a slap on the wrist. They get suspended for a bit and then you see them right back, doing everything, playing like crazy and having endorsers coming right back. I’m stupefied, confused right now.”

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That’s really the rub, isn’t it? Solo was clearly suspended as a culmination of her actions and words over the years, not for breaking the Olympic spirit (as embarrassing as her words were). But she claims the suspension has to do with her leading the fight for equal pay in a new collective bargaining agreement for the USWNT, and there could certainly be something to that.

As with many athletes, reconciling some salient points with an abrasive personality and sometimes eye-rolling comments (see below) is a challenge.

Other things:

  • Solo said she’s never allow her kid to play goalie because it’s “thankless”
  • Solo claimed she spoke with Sweden’s Lotta Schelin immediately after the game, and that the Swedish star was totally okay with her “cowards” comments.
  • Solo on why she didn’t speak to Pia Sundhage, who blasted Solo’s “cowards” comments after the game, “I didn’t have the chance to speak to her. She coaches the other team. It’s kinda hard to speak to Pia or have a relationship with Pia anymore.”
  • Related a conversation with her husband that, “People don’t understand the best part of retirement is you can wake up every single morning and actually decide what you want to do, without obligations”. 

On that last one: Yes, yes they do. I think nearly everyone understands this frame of mind, even if some are hit hard by retirement.

Again, that’s part of the issue here. Solo makes some good points, but her unique personality makes it difficult to separate fact from fiction.