Soccer prez: “I resign…but the blatant sexism wasn’t my fault.”
Carlos Cordeiro, former president of the U.S. | Soccer Federation/Mary Altaffer/AP

My, my, how quickly the mighty fall.

Three days after the U.S. Soccer Federation sparked a massive backlash when its legal filings—in a gender discrimination lawsuit no less—argued: “male soccer players are more skilled than female soccer players,” Carlos Cordeiro resigned as head of the organization.

Cordeiro announced his resignation via Twitter Thursday night, apparently not even information the federation or its communication staff. His resignation came on a day filled with USSF board members and players issuing scathing rebukes criticizing the organization’s legal fillings, including Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Graber and Cindy Parlow Cone, USSF vice president.

According to Cordeiro, the decision to quit (out of shame) came after discussions with the USSF board.

“It has become clear to me that what is best right now is a new direction,” wrote Cordeiro. “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.”

He continued: “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 the language.”

A subtle “it wasn’t all my fault” doesn’t mitigate the situation, and just makes his statement seem more disingenuous than it already was.

In response, players spokesperson Molly Levinson said, “While it is gratifying that there has been such a deafening outcry against USSF’s blatant misogyny, the sexist culture and policies overseen by Carlos Cordeiro have been approved for years by the board of directors of USSF.

“This institution must change and support and pay women players equally.”

There is an upside to the drama, though.

Cordeiro’s decision has now elevated former American midfielder Cindy Parlow Cone to become the first female president in the USSF’s 107-year history.

Parlow Cone, 41, scored 75 goals in 158 appearances for the U.S. from 1995 to 2006, winning the 1999 World Cup and two Olympic gold medals. She retired because of post-concussion syndrome.

Elected to the U.S National Hall of Fame in 2018, Parlow Cone will serve as the federation’s president until the organization’s next annual meeting, February 2021. An election will be held then to complete Cordeiro’s term, which runs until 2022—a typical four-year term.

“The passion that has come to the surface in the past two days is what inspires me to look forward, to work hard towards mending relationships and moving the game forward for all,” Parlow Cone said in a statement issued by the federation.

As reported earlier, the statements made by USSF of male physical superiority and responsibility drew widespread condemnation.

Players voiced their displeasure through social media.

Christen Press posted a photo of the unsmiling team, writing: “It is the great honor of my life to play this sport and represent this country. Every woman deserves equal pay and every institution anywhere that doesn’t value women as much as men must change now.”

In an interview following the women’s team 3-1 win over Japan Wednesday night, Megan Rapinoe, FIFA player of the Year, spoke candidly to young players.

“You are not lesser just because you are a girl. You are not better just because you are a boy,” she said. “We are all created equal and should all have the equal opportunity to go out and pursue our dreams.”

This is quite a turning point for the embattled soccer federation. And we can only wonder anxiously about what will come next in this equal pay fight.


Al Neal
Al Neal

Award winning journalist Al Neal is PW associate editor for labor and politics. He is also the chief photographer for People's World. He is a member of the Chicago News Guild, Society of Professional Journalists, Professional Photographers of America, National Sports Media Association, and The Ernest Brooks Foundation.