US Soccer president resigns amid gender equity dispute

New York (AFP) –


US Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro resigned on Thursday as the federation was slammed by superstar Megan Rapinoe for "blatant sexism" in its latest response to a gender discrimination lawsuit by the US women's team.

Rapinoe wasn't the only critic of the federation after comments made in court papers this week in which US Soccer said playing on the men's national team "requires a higher level of skill based on strength and speed" than does playing on the women's team.

The documents argued that the men bear more responsibility than the women when representing their country.

The documents were filed on Monday in the gender discrimination lawsuit filed by the US women against the federation in March of 2019.

They are seeking $66 million in back pay under the Equal Pay Act and the Civil Rights Act with the case set to go to trial on May 5.

Federation vice president Cindy Parlow Cone will take over as president in accordance with the federation bylaws, Cordeiro said.

Cone was among those voicing criticism of the remarks in the documents, which Cordeiro said Thursday he did not review thoroughly.

“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," he added. "Had I done so, I would have objected to the language."

Coca-Cola company, a longtime corporate sponsor of US Soccer and of world football's governing body FIFA, was quick to distance itself from the remarks, calling them "unacceptable and offensive" on Wednesday.

On Wednesday night, Cordeiro had issued an apology that came as the USA women, who won their second straight World Cup title in France last year, were beating Japan 3-1 in Texas to finish unbeaten winners of the SheBelieves Cup friendly tournament.

Before that match the players wore their jerseys inside out while warming up to hide the federation logo in protest.

"We have sort of felt that those are some of the undercurrent feelings that they've had for a long time," superstar Rapinoe told ESPN after the match.

"But to see that as the argument, as blatant misogyny and sexism as the argument against us, is really disappointing."

Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber found it astonishing.

"When I saw the media reports of US Soccer's recent filing, I was shocked and angry," he said Thursday.

"I expressed to (Cordeiro) in no uncertain terms how unacceptable and offensive I found the statements in that filing to be."