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Carlos Cordeiro resigns as U.S. soccer president, replaced by Cindy Parlow Cone

Carlos Cordeiro has resigned as president of U.S. Soccer, stepping down in the wake of a major backlash following the release of damning details in the U.S. Women’s National Team’s Equal Pay lawsuit.

Cordeiro announced his decision on Thursday night, ending his stint as U.S. Soccer president after little more than a year in charge. U.S. Soccer vice president Cindy Parlow Cone will serve at the interim President of the Federation. Cone is a decorated U.S. Women’s National Team player, and Hall of Famer who was a member of the 1999 World Cup-winning USWNT squad, as well as winner of two Olympic gold medals.

Cordeiro came under fire following the release of details of a court filing made on behalf of U.S. Soccer in the USWNT’s equal pay lawsuit, which included arguments that disparaged women’s soccer players and portrayed them as inferior to men’s players.

The details in the court filing led to a major backlash from all corners of American soccer, with MLS commissioner Don Garber even joining the list of those critical of U.S. Soccer, and major corporate sponsors issuing statements critical of U.S. Soccer.

The highly-criticized court filing details emerged just days after Cordeiro had drawn criticism for releasing an open letter to the American soccer community trying to outline U.S. Soccer’s position in the equal pay lawsuit with the USWNT. The timing of that open letter, released the night before the USWNT was set to face Spain in the SheBelieves Cup, led to criticism of Cordeiro, and when the damning details in the scandalous court filing emerged, it let to even more criticism aimed at Cordeiro.

Cordeiro tried apologizing for the language in the court filing, but ultimately decided it was time to step down as president:

The discussion with the board of directors came after the USWNT’s SheBelieves Cup win over Japan on Wednesday, when Cordeiro shared at statement shortly after the final whistle, promising for immediate change.

“On behalf of U.S. Soccer, I sincerely apologize for 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.” The statement read. “Even as we continue to defend the Federation in court, we are making immediate changes. I have asked the firm of Latham & Watkins to join and guide our legal strategy going forward. I have made it clear to our legal team that even as we debate facts and figures in the course of this case, we must do so 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.”

Cordeiro’s apology did nothing to quiet the growing calls for Cordeiro to step down as U.S. Soccer president, and he did just that on Thursday night.

Comments

  1. I remember how well Cindy Parlow played for the USWNT. If she is as good an executive as she was a player, U. S. Soccer is in Good Hands!!! As for any differences in the men’s and women’s play in Soccer, I don’t see it. With the ball on the ground, it is difficult to tell the difference between men and women competing at a high level. I do NOT see any basis for the men getting more than the women, at least in the U. S. A. Basketball is somewhat different. With the basket up there at 10 feet, the men can put on a more spectacular show with their slamming and jamming, so I could see a salary differential there. But not with Soccer. The men have a BIG Advantage in upper-body strength, but the women can pull
    pretty much equal in lower-body strength, so that the women’s game is just as exciting, at least in my opinion!!!!

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  2. I hope they use this opportunity to split the federation. The US is too big a country to have a coherent development pipeline, to begin with. Spitting the federation will be a good thing for both men and women’s games.

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  3. It will be an interesting dynamic to now have a woman as the face of USSF in the battle against the lawsuit brought by the women’s national team. Maybe she will be able to better articulate the USSF side of the issue. It baffles me that the posters on SBI (most of whom aren’t lawyers I have to assume) can much more clearly lay out the reasons why a straight “equal pay” situation might not work so much better than a team of lawyers that I have to assume are paid big bucks. For their part, the USWNT stars are going to have to figure out exactly what it is that they want. Equal travel and playing conditions – sure that’s a no-brainer and should be the first thing they go after because USSF has no defense on that. But then what? More money for the top 20 women’s players? I’m not sure that helps their cause in the long run. If they truly want to grow the women’s game then that money should be going into the NWSL with the hope of someday growing the league to the point of being able to cut the ties between it and the USSF. They need to be able to pay all the other professional women players that aren’t national team players enough to earn a living playing soccer.

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    • I could not agree with you more. It is by no means clear that paying 20 players multimillion-dollar salaries is a good thing for women’s soccer. However, to make that argument Mr. Cordeiro would have to open the books and explain to the fans what the revenue is and where the money goes. From there he could explain the pay structure for the players and how that benefits the women’s game. He has been a completely ineffective communicator. and has played into the player’s “I’m a victim of sexism” narrative. Hopefully, Ms. Parlow-cone will prove more transparent.

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      • I equate the salaries that the women are getting paid to a DP rule for NWSL, only it’s USSoccer footing the bill. As such it becomes a separate issue – it is done, rightfully so, to grow NWSL.
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        It’s a separate issue from the USWNT fight for equal bonuses, equal field conditions, equal travel, etc. from USSoccer. Too many people want to conflate them though.

  4. This is a conflict about money. Arguments about “skill” or “talent” are pointless. Likewise, stories about “equal pay for equal work” really don’t make much sense. The men and the women operate in different competitive worlds and are not interchangeable. It’s not like we’re are talking about a group of mechanics where the men are paid more than the women. Professional soccer is a business and soccer players are essentially entertainers that fans are willing to pay $$$ to watch perform. From my point of view, only two things really matter. First, what is the revenue brought in by the players doing the thing they do? This argument supports the women’s national team. Although we have not seen the books, I suspect the women bring in a similar amount to the men. Second, is the market value of the workers. In other words, what are your competitors willing to pay for the player services. What is a week of Christian Pulisic’s time worth? We all pay the market rate for the services we want be it a plumber or a lawyer. What is a week of Carli Lloyd’s time worth? A lot less. This is not a simple issue and we should recognize that. Not everyone that opposes “equal pay” for the WNT players is a sexist. On the other hand, there’s no reason to care about how the USWNT might compare to a U17 boys team.

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    • Good post. It’s definitely a complicated issue and you articulate some interesting angles. Still, I wonder if this whole thing is actually unnecessary, from a practical standpoint. Say what you like about Cordeiro and Gulati, but they have left the USSF in a very comfortable financial position, even without a big payoff from the 2018 World Cup. The cost of simply putting this to bed just isn’t that high compared to the operating budget. Having this argument in court (and in public) just seems like a big ugly waste.

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    • yes, some even-handed thoughts here. i’d actually add or suggest that christian pulisic’s (or any other MNT player) “time” is not “worth” any more that any WNT player. our soccer federation, as best they can, need to treat both the same, including their own incentives for winning major tournaments.

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      • The transfer market has Pulisic valued at around $60 million. His time as a soccer player is worth a lot. His time is not worth more than any WNT player? I don’t follow your logic.

      • David– better question is why do we pay Christian Pulisic at all? I can pretty much guarantee that he (or almost any NT player on either side) will show up for free if we simply pay their travel expenses. That’s not just selflessness — NT appearances enhance a player’s brand far more than the crappy sums we pay these players for their time. Never heard of a USMNT player refusing a call-up on the basis of compensation, and I don’t expect to ever.
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        Economics tells us that the value of somebody’s time is a function of (1) what somebody is willing to pay, and (2) what another party is willing to accept. And on that basis alone, the “market value” of most any NT player is Zero. They’d all accept a call-up for free.
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        There are tax and employment law reasons why these people absolutely need to be paid for their time, even if it’s federal minimum wage. And I think most people would agree that throwing in some team-based performance incentives are a good idea (as we already do). But why we pay any more than that to any player? Cos you can’t tell me they won’t show up if we don’t.

  5. All good. He was in waaaay over his apathetic, absent head. As for the Federation. Split it. A women’s federation with leadership that has laser focus on developing, nurturing, fostering the women’s game. Completely self sufficient and self governed and promoted based on the unique characteristics and needs of the women’s game and financed by the income generated by the women’s game.

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    • Time for a split.

      Watching dependents masquerade as feminists with control over the money that the men make is ridiculous and embarrassing.

      Cut them loose. Adíos. Let them do their own thing. I won’t watch a second of it.

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  6. If there are no physical differences in the athletics world between men and women, why are men and women not competing against each other but in separate competitions? …

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    • Is the value of a Gold Medal in the Olympics any different depending on gender? No, it’s a Gold Medal.
      .
      There is no argument about the physical differences, but that doesn’t have anything to do with it. Both the men and women play for the United States National Team. They both represent our country at the highest level.
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      There is no difference.

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  7. Glad Gulattis menion exiled and banished himself from the program. He did the program no favors like Gulatti. Smh! A can of soda or any inanimate object would do better than these two clowns Cordeiro and gulatti. Nepotism was the only reason Cordeiro got the job.

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  8. It was monumentally stupid to approach the lawsuit on the bases of physical difference between men’s and women’s soccer.

    Of the top of my head I can think of a better argument, that the US Soccer federation pays for the CLUB salary of the USWNT players. It doesn’t have to do that for the men’s players as the men’s league can fend for itself. Moreover, all national team sponsorships for the women’a and men’s team are linked together, you cannot just sponser the men’s team and since every country where they are not linked the men’s sponsors pay incredibly more to sponsor men’s team than women’s teams there is no reason to think that wouldn’t be the case here. Therefore when they talk about how profitable the women’s team is we should remember part of their profits come from splitting the sponsorship money innhalf with the men’s team which is more than they would have been able to bring in on an actual open market.

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    • Regarding sponsorship, Coca-Cola and several other major sponsors objected to the USSF filing. They, apparently, think that the women’s team is very important for their advertising. I would suspect that it was the sponsors’ involvement that spelled the end for Cordeiro. If you are an organization that gets a lot of money from a company like Coca-Cola, you don’t want to offend them. They are the 500 pound gorilla.

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    • “the men’s sponsors pay incredibly more to sponsor men’s team than women’s teams there is no reason to think that wouldn’t be the case here.”

      There is actually a major reason to believe that here sponsors would actually pay as much or more for the women’s team. It is advertising for sponsors and the women are better vehicles for advertising. The name of the game is exposure. The women’s team draws greater viewership in person at stadiums and on TV. They sell more merchandise. The women’s team also goes deeper into international tournaments so there are more opportunities for brand exposure and the resultant international press and media coverage, ticker tape parades, etc. mean more eyeballs on logos than the men’s team can deliver. That is what companies pay for. This difference in eyeballs delivered by the women’s team likely isn’t the case in Italy or Brazil or which ever countries allow separate sponsorships. I have seen more TV and print ads in the US featuring O’Hara, Press, Rapinoe, Morgan, etc. (for products outside of national team sponsorships) than I have featuring Pulisic, Dempsey, or any MNT player ever except maybe Donovan. So brands are showing who they think are better advertising vehicles. And as Gary points out, Coke and other sponsors have chimed in directly.

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  9. Welp. Here we are again. Can’t wait to see who comes out of the clown car this time…. Kyle Martino? Hope solo? Viva USSF!

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    • Good question. I still tend to believe that the people who do best these very-high level executive jobs (heads of federations, heads of leagues, etc.) really need a strong business/legal background. Leaving aside the mess that is the USSF, this really appears to be true across many sports. Former athletes rarely have the chops for it. So I wouldn’t mind seeing us turn to successful leagues in other American sports for talent (as well as looking abroad, though the US Is a very unique landscape compared to Europe etc).
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      The bigger problem here is that very few qualified executives actually *want* this job, as evidenced by the comical candidate pool at the last election. The salary is about $500k as I recall, which might sound large to some, but probably represents a pay cut o most of the execs who would be really qualified and good at the job. So you’re stuck hoping that a qualified person is willing to do it for “passion” reasons (this is basically how we got ended up with Gulati, love him or hate him).
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      Bottom line is most countries have dysfunctional FA’s. Get used to it. Look at Argentina or Mexico or whoever. Hard to even think of who has a “model” governing body. US fans need to get over the idea that Elon Musk or whoever is going to ride to the rescue, rip the guts out, and totally restructure and save US soccer. If we’re like most established countries, our success will come in spite of our FA, not because of it.

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      • I just want to see someone with a soccer background that truly loves the sport. Enough of these transplants from other sports (Garber/NFL) or other backgrounds (CEO’s that can run a company but don’t know soccer).
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        Soccer in the US has been around long enough now that we should be able to have one of our own running the show. Until we have the next elections I’m actually happy to see Parlow at the helm for the time being. Ideally she’ll be able to get the ship headed in the right direction again. We’ll see.

      • the one important thing you left out was FEMALE leadership and increased participation…especially now. i’m hopeful we’re getting there.

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