U.S. goalie Hope Solo was subjected to teasing from fans chanting “Zika, Zika” at her as the U.S. women’s soccer team beat New Zealand 2-0 in its Olympic opening match on Wednesday.
The crowd of nearly 10,000 fans at the 60,000-capacity Mineirao Stadium jeered the goalkeeper with references to the virus that has kept away many athletes of the Rio Games.
"I'm glad the fans had fun," Solo said. "And if they had fun at my expense, more power to them."
The Olympic gold medalist upset some Brazilians ahead of the Olympic games by tweeting a photo of herself wearing a hat with a mosquito netting. She also posted a photo of dozens of packs of mosquito repellent that she was packing for her trip to Brazil.
“If anyone in the village forgets to pack repellent, come and see me...#DeptOfDefense #zikaproof” she captioned one of the photos on Instagram.
The veteran goalkeeper said she didn't realize during the game that the fans were chanting "Zika," and thought they were only yelling a common slur that local clubs sometimes use against goalkeepers at goal kicks.
Some of the fans were indeed yelling the slur early in the game, but later the majority of the crowd started with the "Zika" chant, which was also repeated after the final whistle.
"That's something hopefully they will put behind them and realize that Hope has apologized to the Brazilian people," U.S. coach Jill Ellis said of the fans. "Sometimes mistakes are made. We are used to getting booed in other countries, so that part of it is not foreign. I hope the Brazilian people appreciate what we are trying to do with the ball and move past that."
The U.S. dominated from the start to earn the convincing victory and remain unbeaten in 2016, with 14 shutouts and only one draw in 16 games.
"I was really pleased that we got the clean sheet," Ellis said. "I thought we moved the ball against a very determined team."
Carli Lloyd put the Americans ahead with a header in the ninth minute and Alex Morgan added to the lead with a low shot from inside the area less than a minute into the second half.
"That was the best way we could have started," said Tobin Heath, who made the cross that led to Lloyd's goal. "We came out with a lot of energy and a lot of determination. I think in that regards we put our best foot forward and got that goal and I think that helped propel us throughout the game."
The Americans are trying to become the first team to win the Olympics after succeeding at the World Cup. The Olympic tournament is the first major competition for the U.S. since the retirement of key players such as Abby Wambach and Lauren Holiday following last year's world title in Canada.
The revamped Americans next play France on Saturday, again at the Mineirao.
Based on reporting by The Associated Press.