US Soccer president quits after gender discrimination suit

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The United States Women's National Team poses for a team photo before a SheBelieves Cup women's soccer match against Japan, Wednesday, March 11, 2020 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. (AP Photo/Jeffrey McWhorter)

Carlos Cordeiro resigned as U.S. Soccer Federation president on Thursday night, three days after the organization sparked a backlash when its legal papers in a gender discrimination lawsuit claimed the women's national team players had less physical ability and responsibility than their male counterparts.

His decision elevated former American midfielder Cindy Parlow Cone to become the first woman president in the history of the 107-year-old federation.

Cordeiro announced his resignation on Twitter without even telling the federation's communications staff. He stepped down on a day several USSF board members issued extraordinary rebukes that criticized the governing body's legal filings. Among them were Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber and Parlow Cone, the federation's vice president.

A night earlier, U.S. women wore their warmup jerseys inside-out to hide the federation crest before a game against Japan. Several of the federation's sponsors issued statements this week backing the players and condemning the USSF, including The Coca-Cola Co., Anheuser Busch Cos. Inc., The Procter & Gamble Co. and Volkswagen Group.

Cordeiro said he decided to quit after discussions with the USSF board.

“It has become clear to me that what is best right now is a new direction,” Cordeiro wrote. “The arguments and language contained in this week's legal filing caused great offense and pain, especially to our extraordinary women's national team players who deserve better. It was unacceptable and inexcusable."

“I did not have the opportunity to fully review the filing in its entirety before it was submitted, and I take responsibility for not doing so. Had I done so, I would have objected to the language," he wrote.

The legal papers were submitted to federal court in Los Angeles as part of the USSF's defense of the gender discrimination lawsuit filed by women's national team players last year. They claim they have not been paid equally to the men's national team and asked for more than $66 million in damages under the Equal Pay Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 . A trial is scheduled for May 5.