By Karolos Grohmann
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is disappointed that United States goalkeeper Hope Solo branded opponents Sweden as cowards after they knocked her team out of the women’s soccer tournament, but will not take any disciplinary action.
The IOC, which on Friday launched a disciplinary commission after an Egyptian judoka refused to shake the hand of an Israeli opponent, said on Saturday that Solo’s insulting comments came “in the heat of the moment” following a quarter-final defeat
“It is in heat of the moment. Passions run very high, people say things they then regret,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said.
“If those were the comments, it is disappointing. We can only keep talking about how athletes treat each other. People are free to say those things. We would not stop them expressing their opinion within boundaries.”
Twice Olympic champion Solo was furious after the defending champions were beaten on penalties following a 1-1 draw on Friday, calling the Swedes “a bunch of cowards”.
“I think we showed a lot of heart,” Solo said. “We came back from a goal down. I’m very proud of this team. But I also think we played a bunch of cowards. The best team did not win today.”
Solo is no stranger to controversy having been at the heart of domestic violence cases involving both her husband on the eve of their wedding as well as her half sister and nephew.
She also triggered the ire of Brazilian fans when she posted a picture with her face covered with a mosquito net and a jumbo bottle of insect repellent on Twitter before the Games, in reference to the mosquito-borne Zika virus.
“Not sharing this!!! Get your own!” the 35-year-old had written on Twitter. Brazilian fans greeted her with chants of “Zika” every time she touched the ball in her side’s opening win over New Zealand in Brazil on Aug.3.
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Brian Homewood)