USSF 'surprised' by gender lawsuit, seeking dialogue

Chicago (AFP) –


United States Soccer Federation (USSF) President Carlos Cordeiro said on Friday the body had been caught offguard by a gender discrimination lawsuit filed by the US women's national team but expressed optimism of resolving the dispute.

In an open letter released by the USSF, Cordeiro said the sport's ruling body in the United States believed "all female athletes deserve fair and equitable pay."

Cordeiro said the organization had addressed grievances raised by the women's squad in a 2017 collective bargaining agreement (CBA) which set an agreed contract structure, including guaranteed salary and benefits.

"At no point since that time have players raised concerns about the CBA itself, and we continue to work with them in good faith," Cordeiro wrote.

"We were therefore surprised by the complaint filed last week by the US Women's National Team."

All 28 members of the US women's team filed a discrimination lawsuit against the USSF last Friday.

The women's team lawsuit seeks equal pay and working conditions to their less successful male counterparts, and stated that the "the USSF has utterly failed to promote gender equality."

Cordeiro however said the USSF had sought to work closely with the women's team in recent years to "ensure they have everything they need to perform at the highest level."

"We have added additional technical and high-performance staff focused only on the USWNT, provided additional charter flights to improve travel, and created two elite women's international tournaments to provide high-level competition in the United States, among other efforts to support the team," he wrote.

Since the filing of the lawsuit last week, Cordeiro said the federation had been in touch with senior members of the women's team to "better understand their thoughts and concerns."

"Our initial conversation was open, cordial and professional, and we will continue to work to resolve this matter," Cordeiro said.

"We are looking forward to additional meetings with the players in the near future so we may learn more about their objectives while they, in turn, can hear from us."

Cordeiro said the dispute would not distract the women's team as they seek to defend their World Cup crown in France in June.

"Our mutual goal is a dialogue that will serve the best interests of the USWNT and US Soccer, so that our collective focus is where it should be - winning the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup at a time when our team and soccer in the US has so much to gain and celebrate," he said.