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Suspended Solo forced our hand with repeated actions: coach

2016 Rio Olympics - Soccer - Quarterfinal - Women's Football Tournament Quarterfinal - Mane Garrincha Stadium - Brasilia, Brazil - 12/08/2016. Goalie Hope Solo (USA) of USA reacts during the game. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

(Reuters) - Hope Solo’s repeated actions “forced” U.S. Soccer to hand a six-month suspension to the outspoken goalkeeper, United States women’s soccer coach Jill Ellis said on Tuesday.

Solo received the ban from internationals two weeks ago after she branded opponents Sweden “a bunch of cowards” at last month’s Rio Olympics.

It was not the only incident that led to the penalty, Ellis said in her first public comments since the suspension was announced.

“Over time, there’s been off-the-field distractions and the federation has taken action,” Ellis said in comments released by U.S. Soccer.

“Each time action has been taken, there’s been made clear an expectation that this would be the last time such a step would be necessary.

“It wasn’t a decision just made about comments, it was a sum total of actions that have unfortunately shone a negative light on our program.”

Solo, 35, was previously suspended for 30 days in early 2015 for her conduct after a domestic violence case that was dismissed after she pleaded not guilty to striking her sister and nephew during a dispute at her home in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland.

Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; editing by Amlan Chakraborty