The president of the United States Soccer Federation, Carlos Cordeiro, announced Thursday night that he was resigning. The announcement comes just days after widespread outrage fromthat argued “the overall soccer-playing ability required to compete at the senior men’s national team level is materially influenced by the level of certain physical attributes, such as speed and strength, required for the job.”
“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,” Cordeiro wrote in a statement posted to Twitter. “The arguments and language contained in this week’s legal filing caused great offense and pain, especially to our 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,” Cordeiro added. “Had I done so, I would have objected to any language that did not reflect my personal admiration for our women’s players or our values as an organization.”
Cordeiro said that he will step down immediately, and that Vice President Cindy Parlow Cone will take his place.
His resignation comes after the organization faced harsh criticism from both fans and players over the contents of the filings, which were written to convince the judge to throw out a lawsuit filed by all 28 players on the U.S. women’s national soccer team that demanded equal pay and alleged gender discrimination.
The filings included an argument titled: “WNT [Women’s National Team] and MNT [Men’s National Team] Players Do Not Perform Equal Work Requiring Equal Skill, Effort, and Responsibility Under Similar Working Conditions,” which argued, “The overall soccer-playing ability required to compete at the senior men’s national team level is materially influenced by the level of certain physical attributes, such as speed and strength, required for the job.”
USSF’s lawyers argued in the court filing that it’s not “a ‘sexist stereotype’ to recognize the different levels of speed and strength required for the two jobs, as Plaintiffs’ counsel contend.”
“On the contrary, it is indisputable ‘science,'” they added.
The federation also argued in the filings that male and female professional players work “materially different jobs” because of the hostility male players face from fans.
“Opposing fan hostility encountered in these MNT road environments, especially in Mexico and Central America, is unmatched by anything the WNT must face while trying to qualify for an important tournament,” lawyers for the USSF argued. “Even the hostility of fans at home crowds for the MNT in some friendlies can be unlike anything the WNT faces.”
On Wednesday, the women’s national team rebuked the USSF during the SheBelieves Cup by wearing their warm-up jerseys inside out during the national anthem to obscure the federation logo, according to The Associated Press. The four stars on each player’s jersey — signifying their four World Cup wins — remained visible.
“We wanted to stand together as a team and make a statement on behalf of all women and girls that the federation’s comments are unacceptable,” the team said in a statement from spokeswoman Molly Levinson. “We love this sport and this country, and we cannot stand for this misogynistic treatment.”
Just before the match ended, Cordeiro apologized, according to the AP. In his resignation statement, he said he hopes “our remarkable women’s players are always treated with the dignity, respect and admiration they truly deserve.”
—Christina Capatides contributed reporting.