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Hope Solo Says She’s ‘Saddened’ by Suspension Over ‘Cowards’ Comment at the Rio Olympics

Hope Solo spoke out in a statement on Wednesday, August 24, after U.S. Soccer announced it was suspending her and terminating her contract after her outburst following a game at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Related: 10 Best, Biggest Moments From the 2016 Rio Olympics

Hope Solo
Hope Solo of United States is seen before playing against Sweden during the Women’s Football Quarterfinal match at Mane Garrincha Stadium on Day 7 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on August 12, 2016 in Brasilia, Brazil. Celso Junior/Getty Images

“For 17 years, I dedicated my life to the U.S. Women’s National Team and did the job of a pro athlete the only way I knew how — with passion, tenacity, an unrelenting commitment to be the best goalkeeper in the world, not just for my country, but to elevate the sport for the next generation of female athletes,” Solo, 35, wrote in a statement posted on Twitter on Wednesday. “In those commitments, I have never wavered. And with so much more to give, I am saddened by the Federation’s decision to terminate my contract.”

As Us Weekly previously reported, the U.S. Women’s soccer team goalkeeper was suspended on Wednesday for six months after she called the Swedish team “a bunch of cowards” following Team USA’s loss in the quarterfinals at the Rio Olympics on August 12.

Related: PHOTOS: Olympic Athletes: Where Are They Now?

“I could not be the player I am without being the person I am, even when I haven’t made the best choices or said the right things,” Solo’s statement continued. “My entire career, I have only wanted the best for this team, for the players and the women’s game and I will continue to pursue these causes with the same unrelenting passion with which I play the game.”

Solo, who is one of the most decorated players in U.S. soccer history, has represented the U.S. at three Olympic Games, winning two gold medals, and three straight World Cups, but she will not be eligible to play for the U.S. Women’s National Team until February 2017.

Rich Nichols, the general counsel for the players’ association of the women’s national team, called the goalkeeper’s suspension “excessive, unprecedented, disproportionate and a violation of Ms. Solo’s First Amendment rights,” The New York Times reports.

“She was fired for making comments that a man never would have been fired for,” he added and told the Times that he plans to file a grievance on her behalf on Thursday, August 25.

Some sports fans also thought the penalty was excessive and compared her suspension to the seemingly lighter treatment Ryan Lochte received after not telling the truth in his Rio robbery scandal.

“If Hope Solo is getting six months for calling a team ‘cowards’ what does Ryan Lochte get for inciting an international incident?” tweeted New York sports reporter Nick Filipowski.

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“Hope Solo: *calls her opponents ‘cowards’ & her contract is terminated* Lochte: *invents robbery story & is headed to dancing w/the stars*” another commenter wrote.

USA Swimming hasn’t announced whether Lochte, 32, will face disciplinary action or a suspension, but he has already lost lucrative endorsement deals with brands including Speedo and Ralph Lauren.

This isn’t Solo’s first suspension. She was benched for 30 days in 2015 for an incident at the U.S. team’s training camp.

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