Cordeiro steps down as US Soccer president amid equal pay dispute

Carlos Cordeiro (Credit: Getty Images)

Carlos Cordeiro has stepped down as United States Soccer Federation president after a damaging week in the organization’s equal pay dispute with its women players.

Cordeiro was elected US Soccer president in February 2018 after his predecessor Sunil Gulati stepped down; he will be immediately replaced by vice president Cindy Parlow Cone.

Cordeiro’s resignation came just a day after he was forced into a humbling apology to members of the US women’s national team after it emerged that US Soccer lawyers argued in a legal filing that the women players do not deserve the same pay as their male counterparts as they are less skilled and have less responsibility.

“The point is that the job of MNT player (competing against senior men’s national teams) requires a higher level of skill, based on speed and strength, than does the job of WNT player (competing against senior women’s national teams),” the filing states.

The comments, which were quickly condemned as sexist and misogynistic, led to an immediate corporate backlash from major US Soccer sponsors Coca-Cola, Budweiser, Nike, Deloitte, and Volkswagen. It also led to sharp criticism from MLS commissioner Don Garber, Cone herself, and USWNT stars Heather O’Reilly, Abby Wambach, and Michelle Akers.

“It has become clear to me that what is best right now is a new direction,” Cordeiro said in a resignation letter. “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 added: “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.”

Molly Levinson, a spokesperson for the women players, said of the move: “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.”

Cordeiro’s departure leads to a wider power vacuum at US Soccer. Dan Flynn is yet to be replaced as the organization’s chief executive after retiring last September, while last month Jay Berhalter resigned as US Soccer’s chief commercial and strategy officer.

Cone is expected to remain US Soccer president until the next Annual General Meeting, which is scheduled for February 2021.