More bad behavior at the Olympics: Egyptian judoka refuses to shake hands with Israeli opponent after losing; US soccer goalie Hope Solo talks trash about Swedish team

The Israeli athletes can’t catch a break at the Olympics: they weren’t let onto the bus by the Lebanese team, a Saudi judoka (judo competitor) forfeited her match rather than have to compete with an Israeli (the Saudis claim she was injured), and now, according to Sports Illustrated and many other sources, an Egyptian judoka refused to shake hands with his Israeli opponent after being defeated:

[Ori} Sasson defeated [Islam El] Shehaby in the Round of 32 in the over-100 kilogram division. Sasson approached Shehaby with his hand extended after the match, by Shehaby backed away, refusing to acknowledge his opponent.

Here’s a short video; there’s a better one, which I can’t embed, here.

 The Toronto Star via the Associated Press reported that the Egyptian was booed for his unsportsmanlike conduct:

Egyptian judo fighter Islam El Shehaby was loudly booed at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics after his first-round loss to Israel’s fifth-ranked Or Sasson, when El Shehaby refused to shake Sasson’s hand, in a major breach of judo etiquette.

Sasson defeated El Shehaby with two throws for an automatic victory, with about a minute and a half remaining in the bout.

Afterwards, El Shehaby lay flat on his back for a moment before standing to take his place before Sasson, in front of the referee. When Sasson extended his hand, El Shehaby backed away, shaking his head.

The referee then called El Shehaby back to the mat and obliged to him bow. El Shehaby gave a quick nod of his head.

El Shehaby refused to comment afterward.

Here’s a longer but low quality film of the winning throw (and the handshake refusal):

Finally, the Star reports that the Egyptian had been under both national and social media pressure to not fight the Israeli, but his government insisted otherwise:

El Shahaby had come under pressure from Islamist-leaning and nationalist voices in Egypt to withdraw entirely from the fight.

On Thursday, Mataz Matar, a TV host in Al-Sharq Islamist-leaning network urged el-Shehaby to withdraw.

“My son watch out, don’t be fooled, or fool yourself thinking you will play with the Israeli athlete to defeat him and make Egypt happy,” he said, adding “Egypt will cry; Egypt will be sad and you will be seen as a traitor and a normalizer in the eyes of your people.”

Hisham Hatab, head of the Egyptian Olympic Committee, was quoted by the daily al-Masry al-Youm as saying there will be no withdrawals, adding “Islam will play the match without troubles.”

Sadly, there were troubles. Now I suppose one could impute the Egyptian’s bad behavior to simply poor sportsmanship: the behavior of a sore loser. But given his history, and the fact that it’s Israel, you’d be a dupe to believe that. Nevertheless, I see the Regressive Crowd finding some reason why what the Egyptian did was okay, just as some (one on this website) claimed that the Lebanese wouldn’t let the Israelis on the bus because there was simply no room.

The only saving grace is that at least the crowd booed even though the Israeli was dissed.


Now here’s a genuine sore loser. Hope Solo, who has a problem controlling her temper, and sometimes her words, behaved poorly after the U.S. Women’s soccer team (she’s the goalie) lost to the Swedish team in the Olympics in penalty kicks. The U.S team now goes home without a medal. As the Guardian reports:

Hope Solo has had an interesting Olympics to put it mildly. Before the Games had even started she had alienated many people in the host country by posing with anti-mosquito gear, a reference to the problems Brazil is experiencing with the Zika virus.

That led to the USA goalkeeper being taunted with cries of “Zika” at every goalkick by Brazilian fans during the World Cup. She then made two errors as the US drew with Colombia in their final group game of the tournament.

On Friday, she really stepped things up. As the US faced a penalty that would see them crash out of the tournament to Sweden in shoot-out, Solo claimed she needed to change her gloves. That forced Lisa Dahlkvist to wait a few minutes to take her spot-kick, an uncomfortably long time at such a crucial moment. The Swede scored anyway and the defending champions were out.

Solo did not take kindly to the defeat. “I thought we played a courageous game. I thought we had many opportunities on goal,” she said. “I think we showed a lot of heart. We came back from a goal down, I’m very proud of this team. And I also think we played a bunch of cowards. The best team did not win today, I strongly, firmly believe that.”

The glove-changing gambit is of course something done to unsettle the opponent—something that Solo did against Germany in last year’s World Cup final. It may have worked then, but not now, and it’s bogus.

Below is the full quote given by Solo when Sports Illustrated soccer writer Grant Wahl asked her, in a post-game press conference, what she thought of the game. The statement in parentheses is his query about why she called the Swedish team “a bunch of cowards”:

You can see Wahl’s thoughts on the game on the Sports Illustrated site, and here’s a news report featuring a former U.S. gold medalist.

The fact remains, however, that the U.S. lost. And the women’s soccer team, whose great success is held up as a role model for young women in sports, is diminished by someone whose behavior besmirches the whole team. As always, living well is the best revenge, as expressed by the Swedish coach:

There was widespread criticism of Solo on social media following her comments.She later admitted on Twitter that “losing sucks. I’m really bad at it.”

The Sweden coach, Pia Sundhage, led the US to gold and the 2008 and 2012 Olympics and was dismissive of Solo’s outburst. “I don’t give a crap,” she told reporters after the game. “I’m going to Rio, she’s going home.”’

What makes Solo’s kvetching doubly irritating is that the Swedish coach, Pia Sundhage, who dictated the winning strategy, was in fact the Amercan women’s coach (and of course Solo’s coach) at the 2012 Olympics, and knew that the Swedes would need to play a defensive game. Solo was, in effect, accusing her own coach, who had helped her so much, of being a coward.

Solo, a terrific goalkeeper with a pile of successes and records, needs to work on her losing behavior. Sweden played a smart, tactical game, and Solo called them “cowards” for doing what they needed to do to beat the U.S.


  1. barn owl
    Posted August 13, 2016 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    Hope Solo: another pampered, self-involved, over-rewarded and lauded US athlete, who’s appeared on Dancing with the Stars, published an autobiography, and posed for various magazine shoots. Is it any surprise that she behaves like a typical spoiled narcissist when things don’t go her way?

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted August 13, 2016 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

      For me, yes it was a surprise since even elite athletes know perfectly well that sometimes the winning strategy is to hold out. Happens in soccer all the time. Fortunately most are not spoiled narcissists, but she may be.

      • barn owl
        Posted August 13, 2016 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

        At least it’s been fun to watch most of the other athletes, including many of the US swimmers, gymnasts, and track athletes.

  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted August 13, 2016 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    Always the problem when two play a game or compete for anything. Someone has to lose, unless they tie. Generally the bad behavior is with the fans or spectators but here we see it from the competitors who lose. To refuse to compete against the Israeli, that is another story and should maybe call for disqualification of the whole team. To refuse is not acceptable.

  3. Posted August 13, 2016 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    Tut tut….

  4. Posted August 13, 2016 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    How petty we humans can be.

  5. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 13, 2016 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    I have broad toleration for political expression by individual athletes. But this isn’t political expression; it’s bad sportsmanship, simpliciter.

    How someone plays the game they claim to love — whether they respect it, and abide by the spirit of its customs and rules — is a key indicator of that person’s character.

  6. Craw
    Posted August 13, 2016 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    Imagine a chess player calling his opponent a coward for beating him in a positional game rather than a tactical one. He’d be mocked mercilessly.

  7. Dave
    Posted August 13, 2016 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    I thought the whole point of the Olympics was to put international animosities aside?

  8. Filippo
    Posted August 13, 2016 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    I’m reminded of all the time I wasted on the religion of sports, having to have knee surgery (torn cartilage) as a result. Not worth it.

    Just congenially curious, who supports Michael Phelps and his girlfriend and their newborn child? The question could be just as easily asked of other Olympians. The question never gets asked or answered in the media that I know of.

  9. peepuk
    Posted August 13, 2016 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    Maybe Solo was a bit disappointed.

  10. Posted August 13, 2016 at 3:29 pm | Permalink


  11. ed hessler
    Posted August 13, 2016 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    Sally Jenkins, a WaPo columnist who writes about sports (interestingly and well, I think) has a column on Solo (August 12) if you are interested in more about her career and the outburst at Rio.

    Solo is a solo, indeed.

  12. Kevin
    Posted August 13, 2016 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    Athletes often act like children but religion makes them hideous ambassadors of prejudice.

  13. Bob
    Posted August 14, 2016 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    How shabby of El Shehaby.

  14. Mike
    Posted August 15, 2016 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    Not much “Olympic Spirit ” there.

  15. Posted August 15, 2016 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    “Solo called them “cowards” for doing what they needed to do to beat the U.S.”

    Bullseye. What a sore loser!

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