NEW YORK – Carlos Cordeiro is running to regain his job as U.S. Soccer Federation president, two years after he quit amid a backlash to the group’s lawyers filing legal papers claiming the women’s national team players had less physical ability and responsibility than their male counterparts.
Cordeiro was immediately criticized by women’s national team star midfielder Megan Rapinoe, who accused him in a tweet of allowing “caveman levels of misogyny.”
Cordeiro, a former Goldman Sachs partner, headed the federation from 2018-2020. He resigned in March 2020, three days after the federation’s filing prompted widespread criticism from players, MLS Commissioner Don Garber and sponsors that included The Coca-Cola Co., Anheuser Busch Cos. Inc., The Procter & Gamble Co. and Volkswagen Group.
The federation said in the filing that the women's team players who sued the organization in a pay dispute "ask the court to conclude that the ability required of an WNT player is equal to the ability required of an MNT player, as a relative matter, by ignoring the materially higher level of speed and strength required to perform the job of an MNT player.”
“I had put in place multiple layers of oversight to ensure that the litigation with the women’s national team was conducted in keeping with the values of our federation,” Cordeiro said in a statement Wednesday. “In hindsight, I realize that a matter of this importance deserved much more personal oversight from me so that the Federation’s legal strategy and filings showed our women’s players the respect and dignity they deserve.
"When those layers of oversight failed, it resulted in the inexcusable and offensive legal filing that caused so much pain, especially for our incredible women’s players. Had I seen that language, I would have objected and never allowed it to be submitted as written. Given the severity of what happened, words of apology were clearly not enough. As the president of our federation, I felt it was important to take responsibility.”
Cordeiro launched a campaign website and said “I will make it a top priority to reach a settlement with our women’s national team players ... who deserve equal pay.” He said as president he would raise money for “a one-time payment so that U.S. Soccer can help reduce the discrepancy between past FIFA Men’s and Women’s World Cup prize money.”
Rapinoe, one of the players suing the federation, asked in a tweet whether Cordeiro quit under pressure or because "he embarrassed everything and everyone with caveman levels of misogyny?”
“One of the things that I resolve to do better is to listen more closely to the perspectives and aspirations of our women’s national team players and be a better partner in their work for equality,” Cordeiro said.
Cordeiro was succeeded by Cindy Parlow Cone, the USSF vice president and a former national team player. She was elected to a one-year term last January and is seeking a four-year term when a vote is held at the federation’s annual general meeting from March 3-6 in Atlanta.
Under Parlow Cone’s leadership, Will Wilson was hired as chief executive officer and the federation changed law firms in the suit.
The players sued the federation in March 2019 claiming they had not been paid equitably under the collective bargaining agreement that ran through December 2021, compared to what the men’s team receives under its agreement that expired in December 2018. U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner granted a summary judgment to the USSF on the pay claim and the sides settled the portion of the suit alleging discriminatory working conditions.
Players have appealed the wage decision, and oral arguments are scheduled before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on March 7.
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