Carlos Cordeiro has resigned as US Soccer Federation president three days after the organization filed legal papers in a gender discrimination case claiming female players had less physical ability and responsibility than men.
His decision elevated the former American midfielder Cindy Parlow Cone to become the first female president in the history of the federation.
Cordeiro announced his resignation on Twitter without telling the federation’s communications staff. He stepped down on a day several USSF board members issued extraordinary rebukes that criticized the governing body’s legal filings. Among them were Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber and Cone, the federation’s vice-president.
A night earlier US women wore their warmup jerseys inside-out to hide the federation crest during the national anthem before a game against Japan. Several of the federation’s sponsors this week backed the players and condemned the USSF, including Coca-Cola, Anheuser Busch, Procter & Gamble and Volkswagen.
Cordeiro said he decided to quit after discussions with the USSF board.
It has become clear to me that what is best right now is a new direction, Cordeiro wrote. 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 the language,” he wrote.
The legal papers were submitted to federal court in Los Angeles as part of the USSF’s defense of the gender discrimination filed by women last year. They claim they 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 . A trial is scheduled for 5 May.
“While it is gratifying that there has been such a deafening outcry against USSFs blatant misogyny, the sexist culture and policies overseen by Carlos Cordeiro have been approved for years by the board of directors of USSF,” the women’s players said in a statement by spokeswoman Molly Levinson. “This institution must change and support and pay women players equally.”
Cordeiro had issued a statement late during Wednesday’s game against Japan apologizing for the arguments presented in the documents and added the federation had retained new legal counsel, a move the men’s national team called “window dressing” and a sleight of hand.