Hope Solo has taken an indefinite leave from the Seattle Reign of the National Women’s Soccer League, less than a week after being suspended for six months by the U.S. national team for disparaging remarks about Sweden.
The move was announced Saturday by the Reign, saying that the Olympic goaltender has been granted personal leave. The team did not say how long Solo would be away.
It’s been a rough time for the record-breaking goalkeeper. On Wednesday, she was suspended after calling the Swedes “cowards” for their defensive style of play after the U.S. was ousted by Sweden in the quarterfinals of the Rio Games.
Solo was previously suspended for 30 days early in 2015 for her conduct, and won’t be eligible for selection to the national team until February.
The Reign announced Solo’s leave hours before Saturday’s match against the Portland Thorns, after previously indicating that she and U.S. teammate Megan Rapinoe would be available to play. Seattle signed goalkeeper Andi Tostanoski to replace Solo.
The three-time defending champion U.S. women were handed their earliest-ever exit from the Olympics earlier this month when Sweden advanced 4-3 on penalty kicks following a 1-1 draw on Aug. 12.
Sweden’s coach, Pia Sundhage, who led the U.S. team to gold medals in Beijing and London, replied to Solo’s postgame comment by stating: “It’s OK to be a coward if you win.” Sweden went on to play in the gold-medal match against Germany.
Solo had caused a stir in Brazil even before the comment about Sweden because of social media posts about the Zika virus. Brazilian fans booed her mercilessly and shouted “Zika!” every time she touched the ball.
The 35-year-old has long been a lightning rod for controversy.
She still faces a possible trial on misdemeanour domestic violence charges after a 2014 incident at her sister’s home, when she was accused of being intoxicated and assaulting her sister and 17-year-old nephew. Solo said she was a victim in the altercation. Earlier this year, an appeals court in Washington state rejected Solo’s request to avoid trial.
In early 2015 while Solo was at a team training camp in Southern California, her husband Jerramy Stevens was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in a U.S. Soccer team van. Solo was with him at the time.
The former Seattle Seahawks tight end later pleaded no contest and was sentenced to 30 days in jail and four years on probation. Solo was suspended by U.S. Soccer for 30 days.
U.S. Soccer indicated in its statement announcing her suspension on Wednesday that it was a culmination of events.
At the same time, Solo has been stellar on the field.
She became the first goalkeeper with 100 international shutouts last month when the United States defeated South Africa 1-0 at Soldier Field in Chicago. It also was her 150th career win.
During the Rio Games she made her 200th appearance in goal for the United States, an international record.
Solo won her second straight Golden Glove Award for the best goalkeeper at the Women’s World Cup a year ago. Over the course of the tournament in Canada, she had five shutouts and allowed only three goals in seven games.
The U.S. won the World Cup for its third title in soccer’s premier event.
She has also vocally advocated for women’s rights. Solo was among the U.S. players who filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for wage discrimination, saying the men’s national team players have been paid much more than many on the women’s team.
Solo issued a statement on her social media following her suspension.
“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,” she said. “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.”