US Soccer President Carlos Cordeiro backpedaled quickly after on-field protest from women’s team and apologized for ‘the offense and pain’ caused by equal pay lawsuit

  • US Soccer President Carlos Cordeiro issued an apology for “the offense and pain” caused by the language used in the federation’s recent filings in its equal pay lawsuit against the USWNT.
  • The apology came while the USWNT was playing its third and final match of the 2020 SheBelieves Cup and immediately following the players’ silent protest, wearing their warm-up jerseys inside out.
  • The federation’s defense that unequal pay for women is fair because “men are bigger, stronger, faster” came under scrutiny by media, fans, and US Soccer sponsors in recent days.
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US Soccer President Carlos Cordeiro apologized for “the offense and pain” caused by the federation’s language relating to its current legal battle with the USWNT over equal pay.

The comments were released while the team was playing the third and final game of its 2020 SheBelieves tournament in Frisco, Texas, and just after players partook in a silent protest against US Soccer by wearing their warm-up jerseys inside out.

In his statement, Cordeiro wrote that this week’s court filings were not reflective of “the values of our Federation or our tremendous admiration of our Women’s National Team.”

The federation’s argument in the equal pay lawsuit – as reflected in its most recent court filings – suggests that unequal pay for the women’s team is fair because “men are bigger, stronger, faster.” US Soccer’s line of defense came under intense scrutiny by media, fans, and even US Soccer sponsors in recent days.

The public backlash from the federation’s filings, combined with the negative attention garnered from the team’s pre-match protest Wednesday night, likely prompted Cordeiro’s seemingly contradictory comments.

On Saturday night – on the eve of International Women’s Day and the USWNT’s matchup against Spain – Cordeiro released a statement with a markedly different tone from his Wednesday-night apology. In a letter released via his personal Twitter account, the US Soccer president doubled down on his federation’s stance by claiming that it had offered “identical compensation to our women’s and men’s players for all matches controlled by U.S. Soccer.”

A representative for the USWNT immediately said the letter was “riddled with falsehoods,” according to a statement shared by The Athletic’s Meg Linehan. Players were unhappy with both the timing and the contents of Cordeiro’s message, which Megan Rapinoe called “disappointing for sure.”

USWNT star Megan Rapinoe.

USWNT star Megan Rapinoe.
Getty Images/Molly Darlington

While US Soccer has repeatedly argued for the courts to drop the USWNT’s lawsuit altogether, Rapinoe and the rest of the players on the women’s team have requested a summary judgment that would award them $67 million in damages. If the two sides do not reach a settlement, they’ll take the ongoing battle to trial beginning May 5 – mere months before the Tokyo Olympics are set to begin.

It’s looking more and more likely the conflict will reach a courtroom, and USWNT players association president Becky Sauerbrunn is fairly adamant it will be.

“I think it goes in waves,” she told members of the media on Sunday. “Sometimes we thought we were closer, sometimes further, and sometimes when things that happen like [Sunday] night, you’re like ‘oh, we’re a little bit further.'”

“For us, anything less than equal we couldn’t settle for,” Sauerbrunn added.