Carlos Cordeiro has resigned as president of the United States Soccer Federation, effective immediately. Cordeiro sent out a statement tonight informing media and fans that he would be stepping down.
The letter in full is below.
It has been an incredible privilege to serve as the President of U.S. Soccer.— Carlos Cordeiro (@CACSoccer) March 13, 2020
My one and only mission has always been to do what is best for our Federation.
After discussions with the Board of Directors, I have decided to step down, effective immediately. My full statement: pic.twitter.com/4B7siuIqcL
Cordeiro’s resignation comes on the heels of widespread protest at the legal tactics used on USSF’s behalf in their equal pay dispute with the women’s national team, including former WNT player and current Athlete Council member Heather O’Reilly stating publicly that she regrets voting for Cordeiro.
1) I am only speaking for myself on this tweet and no one else. I am part of the Athlete Council. In 2017, we decided as a group, to vote for Carlos, to take over. There was a lot of promises and hope for change. The current released statements have shown my error in judgement— Heather O'Reilly (@HeatherOReilly) March 12, 2020
Though they had other strategies at their disposal, USSF’s lawyers leaned hard on a pernicious line of questioning that argued that because women were not as fast or as strong as men, they could never perform the same job as players. Cordeiro apologized for this misstep, saying “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.”
Considering that this line of questioning was not just limited to USSF’s filings (plural, since this strategy first emerged publicly in a previous request for summary judgment in late February), but several depositions taken from players months ago, this apology feels somewhat hollow. But at least Cordeiro has taken responsibility and stepped down, an inevitability given the trust that has been shattered between the WNT and USSF’s leadership. Not just for pursuing a misogynist defense, but after a series of missteps from Cordeiro, including issuing an ill-advised open letter the night before the WNT played Spain at the SheBelieves Cup - yet another sign of the disconnect between federation and team. But Cordeiro hasn’t stuck the landing on other issues as well, like finding a new CEO. Cordeiro’s term now ends after a little more than two years in office.
As per USSF bylaws, the vice president serves as president, leaving former WNT player Cindy Parlow Cone as acting president. Earlier today, Cone tweeted a statement disavowing USSF’s legal tactics.
I am hurt and saddened by the brief USSF filed. This issue means so much to me, but more broadly to all men & women and, more importantly, to little girls & boys who are our future. I disavow the troubling statements and will continue to work to forge a better path forward.— Cindy Cone (@cone_cindy) March 12, 2020
Once again, it is interesting that US Soccer’s own officers seemed unaware of the issue or did not speak out about it until now, right after the team made an extremely public protest and major sponsors all gave public statements expressing their disapproval. The latest came from federation partner Volkswagen, who tweeted this today:
#StandWithUSWNT pic.twitter.com/eaQZWxShZF— Volkswagen USA (@VW) March 12, 2020
Volkswagen joined Coca-Cola, Deloitte, Budweiser, and Visa in adding public pressure to the federation to apologize for the error. Losing in the court of public opinion certainly doesn’t change the judgment to come in an actual court of law based on USSF’s other arguments, but it may no longer be worth it to the federation to continue pouring money down a hole, depending on what the players might be willing to settle for.
It will be interesting to see what, if anything, Cone can do now. Perhaps the WNT will be more willing to talk to someone who shares history with them, assuming Cone now has authority to steer the federation on a new course. For sure, this lawsuit (along with many others) is draining money and attention out of US Soccer at a time when they’re already dealing with the shutdown of international soccer as a response to COVID-19 - just today, USSF also announced it was canceling upcoming MNT and WNT friendlies and all camps for March and April.
Your move, President Cone.