U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro steps down amid court battle with women’s national team

United States Soccer Federation president Carlos Cordeiro announced he is stepping down from his post on Thursday night. This comes in the midst of a legal battle between members of the women’s national team and the federation over equal pay. Earlier in the week, court documents showed that U.S. Soccer argued “the job of a [men’s national team player] carries more responsibility within the federation than the job of a [women’s national team] player,” according to court documents posted by Buzzfeed News. 

He took to Twitter to announce his decision:

My one and only mission has always been to do what is best for our Federation, and it has become clear to me that what is best right now is a new direction. 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 language that did not reflect my personal admiration for our women’s players or our values as an organization.”

The long, ongoing legal battle over equal pay and gender discrimination saw the USWNT seek nearly $67 million in damages just last month while court documents show U.S. Soccer asked the judge to dismiss the case, saying that the federation is aware of “the public narrative surrounding this lawsuit but the undisputed facts tell a much different story…”

Since 2016, the U.S. has been fighting for equal pay as players have been vocal about the situation. The men can receive up to $17,625 for a win, while the women can only earn up to $8,500,  according to Yahoo Sports. The women’s team has also asked for better travel accommodations and better fields.

USWNT players wore their warmup jerseys inside out on Wednesday ahead of clinching the SheBelieves Cup in what appeared to be a message of protest.

USWNT legend Heather O’Reilly called for Cordeiro’s resignation earlier in the day. U.S. Soccer formely announced the move late Thursday night. 

Cindy Parlow Cone, who has served as Cordeiro’s vice president, will now serve as president, per the federation’s bylaws. The 41-year-old becomes the first female president in USSF history. A former pro player, she made 158 appearances for the national team from 1995-2006, scoring 75 goals. She was also on the iconic 1999 Women’s World Cup team on home soil which took the country by storm.

Here’s more on how the election process will work now that Parlow Cone is in charge (via U.S. Soccer):

Parlow Cone will serve as President until the 2021 U.S. Soccer Annual General Meeting next February in Atlanta. At that time, there will be an election for U.S. Soccer President for a one-year term to see out Cordeiro’s original tenure. In 2022, the regular election for U.S. Soccer President will be held for the next four-year term.

Cordeiro became president on Feb. 10, 2018, replacing Sunil Gulati. He joined the federation in 2007 and climbed up the ranks to become the Gulati’s vice president from 2016-18. Cordeiro and Gulati helped spearhead the winning bid for the 2026 FIFA World Cup which was awarded to the U.S., Mexico and Canada. During Cordeiro’s presidential tenure, USSF expanded its staff by bringing on general managers for both the men’s and women’s national teams to oversee development and management of talent, among other duties. 

“As U.S. Soccer moves ahead with its defense against the lawsuit by the team, I hope that our remarkable women’s players are always treated with the dignity, respect and admiration that they truly deserve,” Codeiro wrote in his resignation letter.”

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