Carlos Cordeiro and the USSF finds himself on the hot seat. (FrontRowSoccer.com Photo)
By Michael Lewis
Under heat by its sponsors and criticism from the U.S. women’s national team, U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro on Wednesday night apologized for remarks made about the Women’s World Cup championship side in a a court filing.
In papers filed this week, the federation argued that playing for the men’s national team carries more responsibility and requires a higher level of skill than that demanded of women players.
The federation was responding to the gender discrimination lawsuit filed by the USWNT against the federation in March 2019. The suit demands $66 million in back pay under the Equal Pay act and the Civil Rights Act.
Then came Cordeiro’s statement on Wednesday night.
“On behalf of U.S. Soccer, I sincerely apologize for the offense and pain caused by language in this week’s court filing, which did not reflect the values of our Federation or our tremendous admiration of our Women’s National Team,” he said in the statement. “Our WNT players are incredibly talented and work tirelessly, as they have demonstrated time and again from their Olympic gold medals to their World Cup titles.
“Even as we continue to defend the Federation in court, we are making immediate changes. I have asked the firm of Latham & Watkins to join and guide our legal strategy going forward. I have made it clear to our legal team that even as we debate facts and figures in the course of this case, we must do so with the utmost respect not only for our Women’s National Team players but for all female athletes around the world. As we do, we will continue to work to resolve this suit in the best interest of everyone involved.
Cordeiro’s apology came after sponsor protests and after the U.S. women wore their jerseys inside-out to protest the remarks in the court filing.
Before the U.S. women’s SheBelieves Cup’s 3-1 win over Japan on Wednesday night, players wore their Blue warm-ups inside out. All that was visible were the four stars for their Women’s World Cup triumphs, a backward Nike swoosh and an outline of the team crest.
Earlier in the day, several U.S. Soccer Federation criticized the organization for its remarks.
“We are extremely disappointed with the unacceptable and offensive comments made by US Soccer,” the Coca-Cola Company said in a statement. “We have asked to meet with them immediately to express our concerns.
“The Coca-Cola Co. is firm in its commitment to gender equality, fairness and women’s empowerment in the United States and around the world and we expect the same from our partners.”
Budweiser has sponsored the USWNT for more than 20 years before taking on a similar role with the National Women’s Soccer League in 2019.
“The comments made by U.S. Soccer do not align with our values nor our point of view on women’s soccer,” Budweiser vice president Monica Rustgi said in a statement. “We champion and admire the athleticism of the women in this sport as we find them to be among the best athletes in the world.”
The USWNT and the USSF have requested a summary judgment seeking a ruling in their favor before the May 5 trial date.
To be continued, for sure.