Carlos Cordeiro resigns as U.S. Soccer president, Cindy Parlow Cone steps in as first female president

Carlos Cordeiro

stepped down as U.S. Soccer president on Thursday night following another day of backlash to the federation's legal filings on Monday night in U.S. district court in Los Angeles, where members of the U.S. women's national team players have filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the federation.

Cordeiro's sudden resignation leaves Hall of Famer Cindy Parlow Cone as the new president. Cone, who was re-elected as vice president at U.S. Soccer's National Council meeting in February, is the first female president and will serve as president until next year when an election will be held at the next National Council in Atlanta to fill the final year of Cordeiro's four-year term.

In 2022, another election for U.S. Soccer president will be held for the next four-year term from 2022 to 2026, just before the USA is slated to co-host the World Cup with Canada and Mexico.

Labor battles. Labor relations between the federation and the women's national team have been contentious for years, and the origins of the current legal dispute stem from a complaint filed by the women before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2016.

The federation and the women reached an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement in 2017. But the women's EEOC complaint moved forward when they filed a federal lawsuit under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII in March 2019.

The lawsuit is slated to go to trial in May, and both parties have filed motions for summary judgment, arguing there is no need for a trial because even if you took the facts in the most favorable light to the other side, they'd win.

It was the response to the players' motion for a summary judgment by Brian Stolzenbach, the federation's counsel from high-profile labor management firm Seyfarth Shaw, that touched off the current outrage. To attack elements of the women's case, Seyfarth Shaw argued, among other things, that the job of a men's national team player requires a higher level of skill and more responsibility than that of a player on the women's national team.

On Wednesday, four U.S. Soccer sponsors -- Coca-Cola, Visa, Deloitte and Budweiser -- lashed out at the federation for its sexist positions. At the SheBelieves Cup, where they beat Japan, 3-1, to win the tournament, U.S. women wore their warmup jerseys inside out to show the four stars for their four world championships but hide the federation crest as a sign of protest.

On Thuesday, MLS commissioner Don Garber, the longest-serving voting member of the U.S. Soccer board of directors, weighed in.

“I expressed to the president of the federation in no uncertain terms how unacceptable and offensive I found the statements in that filing to be,” Garber said. “Those statements do not reflect my personal view, nor do they reflect the views of the Major League Soccer and Soccer United Marketing families. I intend to immediately address this issue with the U.S. Soccer board of directors.”

It was clear that Cordeiro had lost the support of the board when Chris Ahrens and Parlow Cone -- two of his closest supporters -- both tweeted their displeasure.

Ahrens is the chairman of the Athlete Council that holds 20 percent of the voting control of the federation's National Council and was instrumental in elevating Cordeiro to the position of federation president in 2018 to succeed Sunil Gulati.

Cone, who won the 1999 World Cup and two Olympic gold medals, has been active in federation affairs for most than two decades. She served as an adviser to the Athlete Council and received Cordeiro's blessing to run for vice president in 2019 to fill the last year of his term.

On Wednesday, Cordeiro issued an apology, saying the language of the positions taken by Seyfarth Shaw did not reflect the values of the federation and he was asking Latham & Watkins -- the federation's long-time outside counsel -- to join and guide its legal strategy in the case.

In his letter of resignation, Cordeiro took responsibility for not reviewing the Seyfarth Shaw reply brief.

“It has become clear to me that what is best right now is a new direction,” Cordeiro wrote. “The arguments and language contained in this week’s legal filing caused great offense and pain, especially to our extraordinary women’s national team players who deserve better. It was unacceptable and inexcusable. I did not have the opportunity to fully review the filing in its entirety before it was submitted, and I take responsibility for not doing so. Had I done so, I would have objected to the language."

Born in India and raised in Miami, Cordeiro is a former Goldman Sachs partner who joined the federation in 2006 as the board's first independent director. He later served as treasurer and was elected as vice president in 2016.

Cordeiro had been considered Gulati's likely successor in 2022 if Gulati won a fourth and final term as president in 2018, but Cordeiro jumped into the race in the fall of 2017 before Gulati even decided not to seek re-election after the USA failed to qualify for the 2018 Wotld Cup in Russia.

Thanks to the Athlete Council support, Cordeiro defeated SUM CEO Kathy Carter and five other candidates in a hotly contested election that went three rounds in February 2018.

Cordeiro, who had limited soccer knowledge, advocated giving responsibility to federation affairs to experts, creating new management positions to run the men's and women's national team programs. But he left on Thursday without hiring a new CEO to replace Dan Flynn, who stepped down six months ago. The search had actually begun during Gulati's tenure in October 2017 when a search firm was hired.

"I want to thank Carlos for his many years of hard work and dedication on behalf of U.S. Soccer," said Parlow Cone. "He is a good man with a good heart and his significant work to help bring the 2026 World Cup to the United States will have a positive impact for generations. The passion that has come to the surface in the past two days is what inspires me to look forward, to work hard towards mending relationships and moving the game forward for all."

Parlow Cone, who works with the North Carolina FC youth program as the girls' director of coaching for the Durham/Chapel Hill teams, is the first president who has represented the USA internationally -- 158 caps and 75 international goals -- since Werner Fricker.

32 comments about "Carlos Cordeiro resigns as U.S. Soccer president, Cindy Parlow Cone steps in as first female president".
  1. Bob Ashpole, March 13, 2020 at 7:19 a.m.

    No doubt Cindy Parlow Cone is a better choice to lead USSF.

    No doubt USSF will now be more sensitive to appearances.

    But will the change in presidents result in significant policy changes? I hope so, but I don't know that.

    My best wishes to Cindy for success.

  2. David Ruder replied, March 13, 2020 at 9:23 a.m.

    Woman'/Girls soccer has become the "Me too" movement in sports. Comparing women/girls soccer to Traditional Soccer/Football is like comparing Softball to Baseball. Traditional soccer/football played by men has much more body contact is much faster, more aggressive, and requires faster reaction time. The best outcome for Soccer in America, in general, is for Womans soccer to separate and form their own association and work of their own P&L Statement, then they can pay themselves whatever they want. Right now the woman participants are giving Traditional soccer and its players a negative underserved name.

  3. Santiago 1314 replied, March 13, 2020 at 3:11 p.m.

    @David Ruder..."TRADITIONAL".!?!?!?.... WTF does that even mean.????.... The Rules are the same for Men and Women.!!!!... Having Coached Both, I can say, this is one of the most Sexist Comments i have ever seen.!!! The Desire to Compete and Win is MORE Previlent in our Women, than it is in our Men... And Women's Gymnastics is the "MeToo" Sport, this Law Suit has NOTHING to do with Sexual Abuse... 

  4. Vince Leone replied, March 13, 2020 at 11:13 p.m.

    I'm still wondering what "traditional" soccer is. I can certainly think of many things that have been part of soccer for a long time that I would love to get rid of--blatant sexism being one of them. I definitely prefer soccer played with a brain as opposed to the "more body contact is much faster, more aggressive" kind. I haven't noticed that men have better brains than women.

  5. Ben Myers, March 13, 2020 at 9:58 a.m.

    Wow!  Talk about tone deaf legal representation!  Also woefully inadequate direction from Coriero to legal eagles Seyfarth Shaw.  Their sadly sexist filing in and of itself could lead the judge to issue a summary judgement in favor of USWNT.

    And, finally, we have a USSF president who has had very good on-the-field experience.  Cindy has some serious challenges here, and let's hope she dribbles adroitly around the obstacles.

  6. Bob Ashpole replied, March 13, 2020 at 11:41 a.m.

    My first thought was that USSF was fortunate that the suit didn't include a claim of racial discrimination.

    My second thought was don't these people have wives, mothers, sisters and daughters?

    My third thought would be impolite to share.  

  7. R2 Dad replied, March 15, 2020 at 3 p.m.

    Oh comeon Bob, give it a go! Impolite from you is like "Au contraire, I question the veracity of your claims and thus your character. Fountain pens at 20 paces!" 

  8. Bob Ashpole replied, March 15, 2020 at 6:44 p.m.


  9. Kevin Leahy, March 13, 2020 at 10:17 a.m.

    David, I disagree with the statement that women participants are giving traditional soccer a negative undeserved name. I believe that the women have uplifted our federation and the game in general. As a former player and coach, I'm very proud of their accomplishments and how they comport themselves on & off the field. The effort put forward by these women is above reproach. The inspiration they give to all females and males alike is immeasurable! the federation was in need of this change and I applaud it!!

  10. David Ruder replied, March 13, 2020 at 12:49 p.m.

    Kevin, using her soccer platform like Rapinoe to politize this game has given soccer a bad name. 

  11. Santiago 1314 replied, March 16, 2020 at 10:36 a.m.

    @David ... This is America... You should be able to "Politize" ANYTHING... Because this is NOT Federal Govt sanctioned activity... ONLY THE OWNER OF THE ENTERPRISE CAN ESTABLISH WHAT IT's EMPLOYEE's and Representatives can say, While ON THE JOB... OFF the Job, She can say whatever she Likes... It is up to the Owners of NFL, USSF, McDonalds, Target, ... etc...etc.. to Lay down the Rules and Consequences for their Employees... Rapinoe, et al; have to Face the Consequences from their Employer for what they say... (USSF did Shut down her Kneeling)... I DON'T agree AT ALL with her Political Positions...(I don't consider the current Law Suite as Political: It's Financial)... But, I Defend her Right to say it... and I have a Son, in Uniform, Overseas, Defending the Rights of even IDIOTS.!!! 

  12. frank schoon, March 13, 2020 at 11:30 a.m.

    Cordeiro should never have been chosen president. Not only should he resign but also the idiots in position of leadership at the USSF that voted for this wholely inadequate person. He came into power like Cindy Parlow to the President's questionable leadership.

    I can't give an opinion on Cindy's leadership as yet. Although Cindy's has been Vice President, I have not heard a 'peep' about her aspirations or what she would like to do, but instead she's played the political role of playing along to get along. That initself is not promising to me.

    The kind of president I would like to see is someone like a Michel Platini for instance, who has played on the highest level of the game,who has done it all, who knows soccer, in and out. One who has INTERNATIONAL respect of the soccer community world wide for his abilities. In other words, our problem is to raise the level of our soccer in the US and that requires someone who has played at the highest level, which implies a man to run the show for men's soccer is played on a much higher level than women. For example, the technique in the women's game is still in its infancy. The best coaches are found in the men's game not the womens game. Women improve their game by playing with man/boys not with women/girls. There is no way getting around this, we go with the best expertise. PERIOD.

    I currently don't see any American male for this position, maybe some years down the road, but not now;therefore we need to bring in BIG TIME, expertise , until our game has been raised a good level,but currently it is a joke. Just look at our USSF leadership sofar which says it all, it's a reflection of how disorganized our soccer program is.

  13. Ben Myers replied, March 13, 2020 at 12:43 p.m.

    Well, Frank, Cindy Parlow Cone has played at the highest level of women's soccer, earning 158 caps with the USWNT and coaching the Portland Thorns in the team's first two years.  These credentials certainly count for something, including visiibility internationally.  

    One can also speculate that she was laying low, believing that Cordiero would inevitably take a fall, which he did.

    We should all wish Cindy well and godspeed as she leads USSF out of the abyss, both administratively and technically, i.e. player development which has been severely shortchanged by both Cordiero and Gulati.  If the judge does not issue a summary judgement against the USSF for its decidedly indelicate and sexist legal brief, she needs to work hard to make sure the USWNT suit is settled fairly.

    Given the continued failures of the USMNT, it is unlikely that the US will have a soccer player of Platini's stature as a leader for many years to come.  Best we might hope for after Parlow does her turn is another highly regarded player from the USWNT.

  14. frank schoon replied, March 13, 2020 at 1:54 p.m.

    Mike, Cindy's high level of play is not what I consider high level as I expained in my other post about women's even if you call NT level for women.She has obviously has much better experience Mr. Cordeiro that's it. I find the women's NT level of play poor overall.

    You're right we won't have a Platini type of US player for a long time. That is why the expertise needs to come abroad.....

  15. Bob Ashpole replied, March 13, 2020 at 2:09 p.m.

    Ben, according to USSF's response (part of which I found) the plaintiffs filed a partial motion for summary judgment.

    Often these motions are used by plaintiffs for discovery purposes to pin defendents down in front of the judge. The judges use the motions to narrow the scope of the trials. This discovery aspect is an important part of motion practice. I have actually won cases where the opponent dropped the suit after defeating a motion with allegations that they had no hope of proving at a trial. 

    These subleties are why I want to read the motions for myself. Even though I have read the complaint and answer as well as the decision on class certification, I cannot tell what is actually disputed.

    I can guarantee one thing, this federal judge will do what that judge thinks is right. The media fight will have no impact on resolution of the case. It may make things less pleasant for USSF, but if the judge thinks USSF deserves to win under the law, the judge will make that ruling in the case regardless of personal views.

    I wish I could read the motions!

  16. Bob Ashpole replied, March 13, 2020 at 2:13 p.m.

    Frank, the USSF president doesn't have to have the soccer IQ to run the program. The president only has to have the management IQ to pick a Plantini to run the soccer side of USSF, delegate authority to him (or her), and then back him (or her) up. 

    This is the opposite management approach to USSF's. Sigh.

  17. frank schoon replied, March 13, 2020 at 2:42 p.m.

    Bob, you maybe but I remember we had that discussion when Cordeiro came in and I expressed disbelieve with this guy ,then and you sort of stated about the same thing. I remember Cordeiro increasing the size and amount of the 'technical committees', yes and even made sure we have like amount of women on the committee.....LIKE what has gender got got to do with improving skills.
    All this was PC garbage was to make everyone happy.....

    Instead of an administrative like Cordeiro get someone who is tops in the field of soccer and allow him to set the standard, instead of some idiot who has never smelled the grass

  18. Bob Ashpole replied, March 14, 2020 at 1:20 a.m.

    Believe it or not, Frank, it is easier to find a great corporate manager than it is to find a Platini.

    Difficult to foresee, but Cordiero made a worse mess of things in a very short time. My expectations based on his statements prior to his election were that he was going to end the gender discrimination and bring everyone together for the same purpose- making US soccer one of the best in the world.

  19. frank schoon replied, March 14, 2020 at 11:04 a.m.

    Bob don't take what I say literally about Platini type, for example it could be a Theiry Henri type...there are so many who are retired from the game who carry a lot weight and respect around the world. I"m sure we can always find a corporate manager,but this is not the time. We are in a stage where our soccer the quality of soccer  has to improve, not our bankroll. We currently are at the former stage. 

    We need a president someone who has a soccer heart, a soccer spirit, a love and blood for this game, and therefore will not put up with BS for he sees right through the crap and knows what NEEDS to be done. Cordeiro for example in order to improve the quality of our soccer established or rather increased the size of the technical committees and made sure, NOW GET THIS!!! there was 'gender balance' of males and females on this committee. Yes, in the age of PC we have to make gender balance in the decision making in teaching technique  ....UNBELIEVABLE.. I thought technique covers everything or maybe it is me ....Is there a different way girls pass or kick the ball or is there a different soccer insights between boys and girls that makes for having a gender balanced technical committee. Maybe, it's me for I don't have a coaching license and I haven't coached in few years, and therefore, maybe I'm not up to snuff on all this.....

    These corporate types ,bean counters, feel this is more important and totally overlooked what is really needed to focus on. I can just imagine Cruyff, or a like van Hanegem, guys who know the game ,technique backwards and forward, picking a technical committee like what this idiot Cordeiro did.
    You what is scares me is that I didn't hear as much a 'peep' of criticism from any corner about what Cordeiro did.

    Currently ,at this stage of US soccer leadership and soccer developmemt we need leadership at the top who knows soccer in and out and not someone  who looks good working at Goldman sachs....

  20. Bob Ashpole replied, March 14, 2020 at 11:31 a.m.

    Frank, I have a lot of successful management experience as a lead trial attorney including leading a trial team of 28 professionals in one case. (Once you go over 5 people, you have to learn to delegate to be successful.) I am a generalist. The key is surrounding yourself with the most capable people you can get, support them, and then listen to them. There are lots of good managers out there. It doesn't take genius to find and hire genius.

  21. frank schoon replied, March 14, 2020 at 12:13 p.m.

    Bob, you,no doubt, have much more experience and insight in this corporate world than I have, hands down!!!  Yes, and good leader picks good managers, very true, I agree. But there is one problem, he ,perhaps,thinks like the USSF, picking these two dutch idiots  who are qualified ,no doubt, to run our educational soccer programming....And who is to argue or challenge these so called "experts" who have never done anything in the game themselves but great professors....A president or corporate leader the one you would pick would not have the insights , like a Platine a Cruyff a Henri, or whatever to see the finer aspects....

    Like Cordeiro ,he thinks picking more socalled experts on the technicall committee would do the job.... Wrong!!!! That is the problem, we currently need someone at the top who has the ability to understand the finer aspects of the game to know these things.

  22. Bob Ashpole replied, March 14, 2020 at 1:39 p.m.

    The way I see the situation is that MLS is controlling USSF. MLS doesn't want a soccer czar at USSF that will criticize the level of play in MLS. Earnie Stewart was a safe choice for them. Berhalter is a safe choice for them. This is the situation that Cindy Parlow Cone faces.

  23. frank schoon replied, March 14, 2020 at 2:37 p.m.

    Bob,The MLS controlling the USSF? I hope not for what you're saying is they wanted Cordeiro. Did they influence picking these two dutch guys??? I have no idea what the MLS wants to do in way telling the USSF in training their coaches.  The MLS does its own thing when training their youth.
    Can you be more specific in what aspects the MLS influences the USSF that has to do with improving the players....

  24. Bob Ashpole replied, March 14, 2020 at 5:43 p.m.

    Frank, this is an intuitive opinion. First USSF fills its committees and boards with former professional players instead of 20% current amateur players. Lets say MLS has a lot of influence. I don't think they care about specific policies as long as USSF does what MLS wants. 

    Notice USSF broke up the top age group of boys DA into two tiers and stuck all the MLS teams in the top tier regardles of merit. This was particularly apparent in the Northwest.

    I simply think MLS wants the public to see all MLS clubs as outstanding in all aspects. They don't want someone from Europe or South America making honest but negative assessments. So a soccer genius they don't want running USSF. Someone like Beckham would be acceptable because he owns part of a franchise. They also don't want non-MLS clubs winning DA chapionships against MLS clubs. That is my opinion for what it is worth.

  25. Tom Swan, March 13, 2020 at 1:21 p.m.

    IIRC president of USSF is not a paid postion for some reason. Being president of USSF has to be turned into a paying position now, both for Cindy Parlow Cone's benefit and that of the USSF itself down the road to attract other good options, if it comes to that - and at some point it eventually will.

  26. R2 Dad replied, March 15, 2020 at 1:26 a.m.

    Look at who runs SUM: Garber & Sunil. The old MLS guys are still running USSF via SUM, and that's where the money flows. We need a Chinese Wall between USSF and MLS to prevent this sort of self-dealing.

  27. Kevin Leahy, March 13, 2020 at 1:25 p.m.

    Frank, I'm glad you said someone LIKE Platini. His ethics have been in question since the whole thing with Qatar. The process is a difficult one and we are going to have to see how it all pans out. The people with votes will have to decide in 2021.

  28. frank schoon replied, March 13, 2020 at 1:50 p.m.

    Kevin, exactly....LIKE a Platini.

  29. humble 1, March 13, 2020 at 2:35 p.m.

    Finally we get someone with (1) a soccer resume and (2) outside the Chuck Blazer vortex.  This cannot be bad.  My prediction, she turns things around. Read this and compare her soccer career to the last two presidents.  ->  Much more inspiring than the last two and reflective of soccer in America.  Wish her the best!

  30. Santiago 1314, March 13, 2020 at 6:07 p.m.

    Best Wishes to Cindy; But... Having watched her; since her Youth playing days, She never seemed the Leadership Type... Great Player, Good Teammate and Person, but Shy to the "External" Environment... Least we foget... She Quit Coaching Portland Because; "Cone and her husband, John Cone, who was the Portland Timbers' director of sports science, both will be leaving the organization to spend more time together. The couple's jobs often sent them in different directions, and they felt they weren't seeing each other enough.

    "We had to make a decision about the type of lifestyle we want to have together," Cone said in a phone interview with The Oregonian. "We decided we needed to find jobs where we could spend more time together."

  31. Steve Storlie, March 14, 2020 at 1:25 p.m.

    Congratulations to Parlow,

    She was a world class player, coach, and now we finally have someone who has actually played the game in charge, instead of self profiting power hungry bureaucrats....
    As a former player, Coach and now Father of daughter and son that love soccer, I hope she will lead with the same  hard working integrity she showed on the pitch! Congrats 

  32. Guy Walling, March 14, 2020 at 2:44 p.m.

    WTF David Ruder. I am a male and I am offended by your comments!! Get your freakin head out of the toilet, then perhaps you could see through all that traditional BS that you just leaked out of your back end!

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