Cordeiro promises ‘respect’ but ‘lesser’ claim throws fuel on flames of WNT discrimination case

March 12 – US Soccer has apologised after a backlash against statements in court documents this week that players on the men’s national team possess greater skill and have more demanding jobs than their female counterparts. The federation is also feeling the heat from sponsors. 

In the court documents, US Soccer argued that “it is undisputed that the job of [Men’s National Team] player requires materially more strength and speed than the job of [Women’s National Team] player” in a bid to convince a federal court in California to dismiss a discrimination lawsuit filed by members of the US 2019 World-Cup winning team. Unequivocally, US Soccer also stated that “the job of MNT players carries more responsibility than the job of a WNT player.”

But US Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro later stepped in to qualify the legal wording saying that “the offense and pain caused by language in this week’s court filing, which did not reflect the values of our Federation or our tremendous admiration of our Women’s National Team. Our WNT players are incredibly talented and work tirelessly, as they have demonstrated time and again from their Olympic Gold medals to their World Cup titles.”

He continued that the federation would defend against the lawsuit “with the utmost respect not only for our Women’s National Team players but for all female athletes around the world. As we do, we will continue to work to resolve this suit in the best interest of everyone involved.”

But the apology was scarcely accepted by the team’s lodestar Megan Rapinoe, who had already slammed US Soccer at the weekend when the organisation claimed that it offered the US women’s national team equal pay for matches under its control.

“We don’t buy it,” said Rapinoe in a reaction to Cordeiro’s apology. “That wasn’t for us at all. That was for everybody else.” She said the court filing sounded “pretty similar to what we’ve heard before… every negotiation we have, those undertones are there, that we’re lesser.”

The altercation heightens the tensions between the players and the federation ahead of a trial that now seems inevitable, but US Soccer’s insensitive comments have also alerted major sponsors.

“We are extremely disappointed with the unacceptable and offensive comments made by US Soccer,” said Coca-Cola group director for global brand public relations Kate Hartman in a statement. “We have asked to meet with them immediately to express our concerns. The Coca-Cola Company is firm in its commitment to gender equality, fairness and women’s empowerment in the United States and around the world and we expect the same from our partners.”

“While our support for the team is unwavering, we are deeply offended by the views expressed by the USSF,” said a Deloitte spokesperson.

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for March 30 with the trial set for May.

Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1586309462labto1586309462ofdlr1586309462owedi1586309462sni@o1586309462fni1586309462