Carlos Cordeiro has resigned as US Soccer Federation president just three days after legal papers were filed by the organisation claiming female players were less able than men.
The outcry, especially the public comments from global sponsors including Coca-Cola, and subsequent resignation of Cordeiro is a heartening show that perhaps the world is moving in the right direction.
But there is still more work to be done to recognise the disparity in the sport.
The papers were filed as part of the organisation’s defense in a gender discrimination case in Los Angeles brought by female players last year.
They claim to have not been paid equally to the men’s national team and asked for more than $66 million in damages under the Equal Pay Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The claims in the court documents stated that “indisputable science”proved that the male players were superior to the World Cup winning female team.
The organisation’s lawyers went on to argue it required more “skill” and “responsibility” to play for the men’s team than the women’s equivalent, despite the men’s team never placing better than third in the Fifa World Cup.
Refreshingly, the shocking claims caused extraordinary outcry from both sporting figures and corporate sponsors including Major League Baseball’s Don Garber and companies including Coca-Cola and Volkswagen.
A night before Carlos Cordeiro resigned, the women’s national team wore their jerseys inside out to hide the crest during the national anthem ahead of their SheBelieves match against Japan.
After their 3-1 win, team captain Megan Rapino said: “To see that blatant misogyny and sexism as the argument used against us is really disappointing.”
Carlos Cordeiro, whose full statement can be read below, admitted the arguments and language used caused “great offence and pain” especially to the women’s national team.
He added: “It was unacceptable and inexcusable.”
His resignation means that former US midfielder and federation vice-president Cindy Parlow Cone will become the first female president in the organisation’s history.
Cone had condemned the claims made in the filings ahead of Cordeiro’s resignation.
Carlos Cordeiro offered hollow apology ahead of resignation
Before he resigned, Cordeiro had attempted to apologise for the language used in the court papers.
This came after corporate sponsors had spoken out publicly against the statements made by the federation’s legal team and many condemned it as a meaningless PR stunt.
There is no doubt that Cordeiro had to resign after he approved such a disgraceful legal strategy which used appalling language to diminish the achievements of the World Champion women’s team.
The language and arguments used were no different than those used by online trolls day in, day out to drag down female players across the world in all spheres of the sport.
So when it is used by one of the sport’s leading governing bodies in a country where their female team are current World Champions, what kind of message does that send to young girls and boys across the globe?
The USSF have taken a step in the right direction with the resignation of Cordeiro and the appointment of Cone – a former player who will understand everything the women are fighting for.
But it is time for them to put their money where their mouth is and cough up the cash for the women’s national team.
Comparing women’s football to men’s football is of little value in conversations about gender equality.
But even for those of you out there who insist on it, just remember the men’s national team failed to qualify for the most recent Fifa World Cup while the women won in dominant fashion for the second time in a row.
Surely if you were to compare anything, then accolades and achievements in their respective fields are a fair way to reward performance.
What’s more, to argue the men’s team has a greater responsibility when the women have been the team to beat for years is just absurd.
By allowing such reckless arguments to be used in their legal battle, the USSF has suffered drastically in the court of public opinion.
A logical and ethical way to correct that would be to pay the female players what they deserve.
The federation claim they have retained new legal counsel and a trial is set for May 5.
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