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London Olympics: Soccer players put the 'twit' into Twitter

July 30, 2012|By Kevin Baxter
  • Michel Morganella and Switzerland lost their preliminary soccer opener last week, 2-1, to South Korea.
Michel Morganella and Switzerland lost their preliminary soccer opener… (Paul Ellis / Getty Images )

LONDON -- What is it with soccer players and Twitter?

Two days after Hope Solo, goalkeeper for the U.S. women's team, raised a row with a series of tweets lambasting TV analyst Brandi Chastain, Switzerland sent defender Michel Morganella home after he used social media to post a racist insult following his team's loss to South Korea on Sunday.

"Michel Morganella gravely insulted and discriminated against the South Korean people and their football team with his highly offensive comments on Twitter," said Gian Gilli of the Swiss Olympic delegation. "We condemn his comments, which are in fundamental violation of the IOC’s Olympic charter and Swiss Olympic's own ethics charter. "This is why, in consultation with the Swiss Football Association, we have withdrawn Morganella's accreditation."

Morganella also apologized.

"I made a huge mistake after the disappointing result," he said. "I wish to apologize to the people in South Korea and their team, but also to the Swiss delegation and Swiss football in general. I obviously accept the consequences for my actions."

His Twitter account has been deleted as well.

Morganella is the second athlete to be kicked out of the Games for racist tweets, joining Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou, who posted a comment mocking African immigrants. She also apologized.

Solo, however, is not backing down from her criticism of Chastain, a former national team star who was critical of some aspects of the U.S. team's play in Saturday's win over Colombia.

“It's not about one game. I have my beliefs that the best commentators and the best analysts should be analyzing come Olympics, come World Cups. And it's only my opinion," Solo, who turned 31 Monday, said after her team's walk-through at historic Old Trafford in Manchester, where the U.S. will play North Korea on Tuesday in its final match of group play.

"You can take it or leave it, to be honest. It's my opinion, and I think analysts and commentators should bring energy and excitement and passion for the game. And a lot of knowledge. It's important to help build the game. And I don't think Brandi has that. It's just my opinion, and nothing else really matters, to be honest."

The war of words has gotten the attention of Coach Pia Sundhage, who met with Solo and the team's captains Sunday. But she stopped short of censoring Solo or asking her to stay off social media.

Chastain has refused to be drawn further into the fray, saying that any perceived criticism was part of her job as an "honest and objective" journalist.

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