• The US Soccer Federation filed a motion to dismiss the USWNT’s equal pay and gender discrimination lawsuit against its governing body and de facto employer.
  • Publicly available filings from the suit reveal that Carlos Cordeiro, the current president of US Soccer, has previously made comments that seem to support the women’s claims of unequal treatment.
  • Back in 2018, Cordeiro told ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle “we clearly need to work toward equal pay for the national teams.”
  • The year prior, Cordeiro found himself in hot water with then-US Soccer president Sunil Gulati after publicly stating “our female players have not been treated equally,” according to court documents acquired by Business Insider.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The US Women’s National Team players are engaged in a very contentious and highly publicized legal battle with the US Soccer Federation — their employer — over “pay discrimination” due to “gender stereotyping.”

And recently-released documents suggest that support for the women’s inequality claims came from an extremely unlikely source — Carlos Cordeiro, the current president of US Soccer.

As president of the federation, Cordeiro sits at the helm of US Soccer and is the foremost representative of the organization acting as the defendant in the equal pay lawsuit. Presumably, Cordeiro’s opinion is that of US Soccer and vice versa, but past statements appear to contradict this notion.

When he was just running for president of the federation back in January of 2018, Cordeiro spoke with ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle about various topics pertinent to the organization. Unsurprisingly, equal pay for the USWNT and USMNT came up. More surprisingly, the Bombay, India, native’s response seemingly supported the women’s players’ claims of discrimination.

USWNT Champs

The USWNT players filed their suit months before winning the World Cup in 2019.

VI-Images / Getty Images


“I’m a strong supporter of greater equality, diversity, and inclusion throughout US Soccer, and we clearly need to work toward equal pay for the national teams,” Cordeiro told Carlisle. “I believe that where existing agreements are unfair, adjustments should be made immediately. To ensure equal pay going forward, we need to be open to new paradigms while recognizing the specific needs and desires of the WNT and MNT… Beyond player salaries, my platform calls for equal resources for our women’s program, from the coaching staff to the training facilities to the travel accommodations.

“We don’t need to wait for CBA negotiations to make these changes; we can start now,” he added. “It’s the right thing to do.”

One of the USWNT players’ top attorneys, Jeffrey Kessler, quoted these comments in the motion for partial summary judgment he penned on behalf of the women. Additionally, Kessler included an even more damning statement from Cordeiro in which he appears to contradict US Soccer’s line of defense.

“Our women’s teams should be respected and valued as much as our men’s teams, but our female players have not been treated equally,” Cordeiro said, according to the lawsuit filings.

That comment got Cordeiro — who had held various roles with US Soccer since 2007 — into quite a bit of hot water with former US Soccer president Sunil Gulati. In an email from December 2017, Gulati refers to his colleague’s comments as “incredibly irresponsible” considering the federation had “a pending EEOC charge” at the time.

Despite Cordeiro’s apparent contradictions, USSF filed a motion for dismissal of the USWNT players’ case Thursday night, alleging that the men’s and women’s players “perform such different jobs” that there’s no basis for a direct comparison between the two and thus no grounds for a discrimination lawsuit.

The women, meanwhile, are seeking $67 million in back pay from the US Soccer Federation based on purported violations of Title VII and the Equal Pay Act. Their lawyers argue that the amount — split between the 38 EPA class members and 72 Title VII class members — is commensurate with the amount they would have been compensated had they been given the rate in the men’s collective bargaining agreement with US Soccer.

Should the presiding judge — Gary Klausner — reject both the USWNT players’ motion for summary judgment and the USSF motion for dismissal, the lawsuit will likely move to trial. Though both parties requested a trial date after the 2020 Olympics, Klausner set the date for May 5, mere months before the games begin in Tokyo.

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