Goalkeeper Hope Solo says she believes the U.S. Soccer Federation gave her a six-month suspension and terminated her contract as retaliation for her stance on equal pay.
Solo's remarks, made last week after she was notified of her suspension, were aired for the first time Friday in the final episode of the documentary series "Keeping Score." The series follows Solo and fellow U.S. women's national team players Megan Rapinoe and Crystal Dunn before, during and after the Rio Olympics.
"I feel like I'm being pushed out, because it can't be based off performance, my health," she says in the episode. "It can't be based off anything but they don't like me ... because they know I've been fighting so hard for equal pay.
"They're going to use my comments as an excuse to get rid of me forever so that they don't have to deal with such a strong voice and opposition to field conditions and playing conditions and pay. I think I'm just a thorn in their side, and it's time for them to cut their losses."
Solo was suspended Aug. 24 for what U.S. Soccer called "conduct that is counter to the organization's principles," after she made critical remarks about the Sweden team following a U.S. loss at the Rio Olympics. Among her comments, Solo called the Sweden team "a bunch of cowards."
U.S. Soccer said the suspension also took into consideration "past incidents" involving Solo.
Solo was among five members of the USWNT that filed a wage-discrimination action against U.S. Soccer in April. Among its claims, the filing said the women's team was being paid about a quarter of what the men earn despite generating nearly $20 million more revenue last year.
Rapinoe, who also appears in the documentary's final episode, said she believes Solo's suspension might be "legal strategy" by U.S. Soccer.
"As a member of the team and of the CBA group and of the PA [players' association], I'm pretty unhappy with a sort of arbitrary six-month suspension for calling someone a coward," Rapinoe says in the final episode. "I think that there's probably some legal strategy going on with it all."