Sponsor backlash to U.S. Soccer legal positions in women's suit is swift, followed by apology

After four U.S. Soccer sponsors -- Coca-Cola, Visa, Deloitte and Budweiser -- lashed out at the federation for its most recent legal filings in the gender discrimination suit pitting it against members of the U.S. women's national team, U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro issued an apology Wednesday night.

"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."

At issue were positions taken by the federation's counsel, high-profile labor management firm Seyfarth Shaw, in response to the players' motion for a summary judgment.

Among the statements in the reply brief:

-- The women claimed their ability level is the same as the men “by ignoring the materially higher level of speed and strength required to perform the job of an MNT player."
-- "A reasonable juror could conclude that the job of MNT player requires materially different skill and more responsibility than plaintiffs’ job does, while also taking place under materially different working conditions."
-- "The job of MNT player (competing against senior men’s national teams) requires a higher level of skill based on speed and strength than does the job of WNT player (competing against senior women’s national teams)."

SI.com: U.S. Soccer President Carlos Cordeiro Must Resign After Disgraceful Defense in USWNT Case

Coca-Cola called the federation's views in its Monday filings "unacceptable and offensive." Budweiser said they didn't align "with our values, nor our view on women's soccer," while Deloitte said it was "deeply offended.

Both Coca-Cola and Visa said it planned to meet with U.S. Soccer to discuss the flings.

Photo: Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire

26 comments about "Sponsor backlash to U.S. Soccer legal positions in women's suit is swift, followed by apology".
  1. Bob Ashpole, March 12, 2020 at 12:51 a.m.

    Cordeiro deserves some credit for backtracking.  

    I wonder if the case will settle now? 

  2. Bill Dooley replied, March 12, 2020 at 11:39 p.m.

    He has now resigned.  Former WNT player Cindy Parlow Cone takes over.

  3. R2 Dad, March 12, 2020 at 1:11 a.m.

    Why would Cordiero take the bullet for the idiot law firm? He should have insisted they make the retraction, then publicly fire them next week. Theyr'e just expensive paper-shufflers, USSF should be able to find a competent vendor in a couple of days.

  4. Bob Ashpole replied, March 12, 2020 at 8:19 a.m.

    The law firm is merely a specialized spokesman for USSF, Cordiero. They don't file anthing that isn't approved by their client. They also can't retract anything without approval by their client. (The only exceptions would not apply here.)

  5. Paul Berry replied, March 12, 2020 at 4:40 p.m.

    From reading the above it looks like it was USSF's internal legal department at fault, not a third- party legal firm. 

  6. Tom Mara, March 12, 2020 at 8:31 a.m.

    Based on everything I've heard and read, USSF is in need of new leadership starting with Cordeiro.

  7. Anthony Bates, March 12, 2020 at 9:53 a.m.

    Are not salaries dependent on revenue coming in?  Everyone gets the same percentage of the revenue that their team generates.  Seems to be a pretty simple rule to follow and completely fair for every player - men and women.

  8. Kevin Leahy, March 12, 2020 at 10:23 a.m.

    I agree Tom. It has been a ruderless ship for a while now. Unfortunately, don't see it changing anytime soon.

  9. Tom G, March 12, 2020 at 11 a.m.

    Yet another example of the incompetent USSOCCER leadership. Tone deaf and dumb.  

  10. John Soares, March 12, 2020 at 11:18 a.m.

    Beyond, negotiations, disputes, all money issues....
    These statements are a new low
    One would think it's 1920 not 2020

  11. Wallace Wade, March 12, 2020 at 11:24 a.m.

    They should pull the sponsorship. The only thing the Fed understands is $. Especially Cordeiro. After all, he's a banker

  12. Bob Colucci, March 12, 2020 at 11:59 a.m.

    The legal team should be immediately fired.  No discussion.  That was an unconsciencable position to take!  And demeans our women players - the best in the world.

  13. Bob Ashpole replied, March 12, 2020 at 10:06 p.m.

    Attorneys advise and acts as agents for the principals. Agents don't control anything. They can quit if they don't like the job. If the attorney has appeared in a lawsuit on behalf of a party, that attorney cannot withdraw from the lawsuit without permission of the judge.

    USSF has hired women as attorneys. The current one was previously an assistant to a women who left USSF in 2018 or maybe 2019. There is no information on the internet about why or when she left.

    Easy to blame attorneys if you forget that they are just the spokesperson, not the decision maker.

  14. Fajkus Rules, March 12, 2020 at 2:24 p.m.

    Apparently none of you, or Coke, Budweiser, or VISA have ever been to court, or lived through a divorce trial.  It's a nasty effing place and a lot of uncaring positions taken and things said to win.  Pull your big boys pants up and let the lawyers sort this one out.  The question isn't really how well our women do vs. our men, the question is how well do they do vs. the rest of the world's women?  Pretty good, I'll wager.  This comparison is somewhat like taking the most consistently successful AAA baseball team and comparing them to the worst MLB team over the past 5 years.  If you can take most of the women's arguments and apply them to the AAA team, then we know what's really going on with this comparison.  When any one of the women can make the men's team, then we can look at identical pay.  USSF's position should simply be that the economics of each team is as different as the difference between Pro Lacrosse and the NFL or the NFL and the XFL.  The fact that both teams play soccer is more coincidental than causal.

  15. Bob Ashpole replied, March 12, 2020 at 10:08 p.m.

    I have 30 years of trial experience. Your comment ignores US law.

  16. David Ruder, March 12, 2020 at 2:25 p.m.

    Woman/Girls Soccer is not the same as Traditional soccer played organized 1869, it's similar but not played with the same intensity, power and speed as traditional soccer. Women's soccer is like softball as compared to traditional Hardball.

  17. Bob Ashpole replied, March 12, 2020 at 10:11 p.m.

    David, the Equal Pay Act requires equal pay for performing "similar" jobs. Your comments support the USWNT.

  18. David Ruder, March 12, 2020 at 2:33 p.m.

    Woman/Girl soccer is not the same as traditional Soccer/Football organized since 1869. It is somewhat similar but played with the same speed, power, and intensity as traditional. The best way to compare the two is what Softball is to Hardball.

  19. David Ruder replied, March 12, 2020 at 2:38 p.m.

    Sorry, I did not mean to put up this comment so many times, dint think it was posted the first time, having some problems with my PC.

  20. David Ruder, March 12, 2020 at 2:34 p.m.

    Woman/Girl soccer is not the same as traditional Soccer/Football organized since 1869. It is somewhat similar but played with the same speed, power, and intensity as traditional. The best way to compare the two is what Softball is to Hardball.

  21. David Ruder, March 12, 2020 at 2:34 p.m.

    Woman/Girl soccer is not the same as traditional Soccer/Football organized since 1869. It is somewhat similar but played with the same speed, power, and intensity as traditional. The best way to compare the two is what Softball is to Hardball.

  22. R2 Dad, March 13, 2020 at 1:43 a.m.

    Well, Carlos is out. Final straw. Will they bring in an outsider to revamp the bad culture in Chicago?

  23. Bob Ashpole replied, March 13, 2020 at 1:54 a.m.

    Another PR move. Cordiero is replaced by a women, Cindy Parlow.

    Not sure if this will actually make a difference. Over the years it is pretty clear that MLS controls USSF.

  24. Hal Barnes, March 13, 2020 at 2:27 a.m.

    USSF is populated by idiots. 

  25. Hal Barnes, March 13, 2020 at 2:29 a.m.

    MLS is Triple A baseball lite. 

  26. Wallace Wade, March 13, 2020 at 12:58 p.m.

    Words mean nothing to the Fed. Cash speaks. Sponsors need to pull the plug if they want change

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