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With the sports world collectively recoiling at the language used by U.S. Soccer in its latest equal pay lawsuit filing — specifically, the argument that men’s players having superior “ability” is “indisputable science” — federation president Carlos Cordeiro is now apologizing for it.
Cordeiro said, via an official statement sent out Wednesday evening:
“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.
“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.”
The statement came right as the United States women’s national team was wrapping up a title at the 2020 SheBelieves Cup with a 3-1 win over Japan. The USWNT came out in warm-ups turned inside-out in an apparent attempt to block out the U.S. Soccer logo.
It’s been a whirlwind few days for U.S. Soccer in the equal pay saga, to say nothing of the year since the lawsuit was first filed. On Saturday, the federation called out the women for refusing to meet to negotiate their request to have the suit thrown out and be awarded $66 million in back pay to make up the FIFA prize money discrepancy.
In Monday’s legal filing, U.S. Soccer characterized of women’s players as having less ability, which the federation defined as “materially influenced by the level of certain physical attributes, such as speed and strength.”
As Yahoo Sports’ Caitlin Murray laid out, there are workable ways to resolve the equal pay issue, but none include such blatant sexism.
The federation seems to have recognized this, but the damage has been done, on a number of levels. After the game, Megan Rapinoe shared her thoughts on the language, per Steven Goff of the Washington Post, via ESPN:
“We've sort of felt that those are some of the undercurrent feelings that they've had for a long time. But to see that as the argument, as blatant misogyny and sexism as the argument against us, is really disappointing.
“But I just want to say, it's all false. To every girl out there, to every boy out there, who watches this team, who wants to be on this team, or just wants to live their dream out, you are not lesser just because you're a girl. You are not better just because you're a boy. We're all created equal and should all have the equal opportunity to go out and pursue our dreams, and for us that means playing on the soccer field.
“So, everything that was in that deposition, what they said in the argument is just not true. Don't ever believe that.”
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