Hope Solo, not retiring, apologized to Sweden captain after ‘cowards’ comment

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Hope Solo, who is not retiring, said a Sweden co-captain told her she didn’t need to apologize for her comments calling the Swedes “a bunch of cowards” following the U.S.’ quarterfinal loss at the Rio Olympics.

Solo, a 35-year-old suspended until February by U.S. Soccer, said she spoke to Swedish co-captain Lotta Schelin shortly after the Aug. 12 match that ended in penalty kicks. Solo and Schelin were once club teammates for a Swedish league team in 2004.

“I said to her, ‘You know, Lotta, I said something. I used the word “cowards” when talking about you guys, and I didn’t mean that. I’m so sorry,'” Solo said in a Swedish interview published Friday. “And she was like, ‘Oh, I know you, don’t worry about it. Don’t worry about it.’ And she’s like, ‘Look, the American team has been in the last five championship games in the Olympics. Five championships.’ And she’s like, ‘We never have.’ She’s like, ‘So, for us to beat a better-skilled team like Brazil and like America, we had to drop back defensively.’ And she knew it, but for the most part, we just hugged and we laughed and she accepted my apology. She didn’t even think I needed to apologize.”

Solo said she wasn’t enraged, emotional or angry when she made the “cowards” comments to journalists after the match.

“I’m not a loose cannon, like I think the media projects,” Solo said. “I didn’t mean to come across that the players were cowards or the coach was a coward. I meant the style of play, it wasn’t very Olympic-spirited.

“I think Lotta Schelin, No. 8, the captain for Sweden of course, is one of the best players in the world — one of the best attacking players in the world. So it was really difficult to watch her drop back defensively, and I saw her, most of the time, in the 18-yard box in her defense.

“And I wanted her to attack me, I wanted to play against Lotta. I wanted to try to stop her shots. I love the competitive nature between America and Sweden. It was a little disappointing to see them drop back to the 50-yard line to play defense.”

Solo added that she has not spoken with Swedish coach Pia Sundhage, the former U.S. women’s national team coach, since the match.

“She coaches the other team, so it’s kind of hard to speak to Pia, or have a relationship with Pia anymore,” Solo said.

Solo said her immediate future is up in the air, joking that she’s “jobless.” Her husband, former NFL tight end Jerramy Stevens, is retired after playing his last football game in 2010 at age 30.

“Retirement suits you,” Stevens recently told Solo. But Solo isn’t accepting that.

“I’ve had a lot of offers to play overseas, so maybe Sweden will welcome me back,” Solo joked.

VIDEO: Solo’s immediate reaction to six-month suspension