Cindy Parlow Cone: “I don’t think a trial is good for either party or for soccer in this country or internationally.” (Photo courtesy of U.S. Soccer)
By Michael Lewis
Even if the U.S. Soccer Federation finds a way to settle the U.S. women’s national team’s lawsuit, nobody has to remind new president Cindy Parlow Cone that it automatically won’t make life perfect between the two parties.
There is much to rebuild in trust and a relationship between U.S. soccer’s governing body and the two-time defending Women’s World Cup champions.
“Settling this dispute is only the first step,” Parlow Cone said during a conference call on Tuesday afternoon, “but the next step is a long process. I think a lot of damage has been done and i think we are going to have rebuild that trust and rebuild that relationship. It’s not going to happen overnight. It’s going to take a lot of effort, time and energy from the U.S. Soccer side to rebuild that trust, not only with the U.S. women national team players, but with our fans and everyone engaged in our sport.
“I think the comments and the language in the last filing not only hurt our relationship with our women’s national team, but hurt women and girls in general. And as a former national team player, they were personally hurtful to me. So, I think we have a lot work in that [area] to do. But I’m willing to jump in and work tirelessly to help build that relationship and that trust.”
That filing Parlow Cone referred to included some incendiary remarks about how the USWNT players did not put in the same work as the men. It led to former president Carlos Cordeiro resigning from his position and taking over his role and responsibilities.
Parlow Cone certainly has found herself in a unique position. As a former member of the national side — Parlow Cone scored 75 goals in 158 international appearances and is a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame — she knows what the team has had to endure through the years trying to find equality with the men’s national squad and securing more respect from the federation.
She called settling the lawsuit “one of our top priorities right now.”
“I don’t think a trial is good for either party or for soccer in this country or internationally,” Parlow Cone added. “Obviously, our women’s team is the best team in the world and hopefully we can find a resolution before this goes to trial.”
Will Wilson, named the new CEO and secretary general of U.S. Soccer on Monday night, also was on the conference as he chimed in with his opinion as well.
“The wording and the comments in the filing were quite frankly, shocking and very disappointing to me when i read it,” he said. “From my perspective, I have the benefit of being the new guy on the block. Absolutely my commitment will be to find solutions to engage at every level, our players, our members, our fans to grow this game and to continue to push this forward and be the preeminent sport in this country, which I think we can be.”
Cordeiro resigned after he divulged, he did not read the remarks in the filing. Parlow Cone said that she did not see the filing before it went public. “That process broke down,” she said, adding that the USSF has hired an outside firm to review the federation’s process.
While Parlow Cone would like to see the lawsuit settled as soon as possible, outside forces such as the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, will not allow everyone to come together in a room to resolve their differences.
She said a meeting is not on tap at the present time.
“We are hopeful that we can schedule one very soon,” Parlow Cone said. It’s challenging right now with the backdrop of Cornavirus and I’m a big believer of getting people in the same room and finding resolution. So, in the meantime we may have to settle with jumping on some calls. I am hopeful that this will be case in the coming weeks.”
One item that has been wiped from everyone’s schedule in 2020 was the Tokyo Summer Olympics. The International Olympic Committee on Tuesday postponed the sporting extravaganza until next summer.
“It’s a great decision,” Parlow Cone said. “We don’t want to put anyone’s health at risk, our athletes and the fans who would be going over to Japan. I was in communication with the players and the coaches … The decision by the IOC was right in line in what the coaches were thinking.”
Cone Parlow noted that the American men still needed to qualify. The Concacaf tournament was slated to be held this week, but the pandemic wiped everything off the international sports schedule.
“There are still a lot of questions in the air that we will try to find out in a short period of time,” he said. “It is challenging right now. All the decisions will come in time. First and foremost, we want our athletes to remain healthy, not only from the Coronavirus, but have a sufficient timeline to get fit and there’s not a risk of injury as well.”