New U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone moves to address damage caused by legal filing

New U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone moved to clean up the damage caused by last week's filing by the federation in the gender discrimination lawsuit that pits it against members of the U.S. women's national team.

On Monday, she said the federation had removed the offensive language from its final filing in its motion for summary judgment and it was transitioning to Latham & Watkins as lead counsel in the case in U.S. district court in Los Angeles.

In response to the players' motion for summary judgment, Brian Stolzenbach, the federation's counsel from high-profile labor management firm Seyfarth Shaw, touched off an outrage by arguing, 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.

In response, the players' spokeswoman Molly Levinson said the argument belonged "in the Paleolithic Era. It sounds as if it has been made by a caveman."

One after another, sponsors then lashed out at the federation for the language in the filing. Then-U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro issued a statement, apologizing for what he said was "the offense and pain caused" by the language, but resigned a day later after being rebuked by MLS commissioner Don Garber and Athlete Council chairman Chris Ahrens, two influential members of the federation's board of directors, and Cone, the federation vice president who replaced him.

"Last week's legal filing was an error," Cone said on Monday night. "It resulted from a fundamental breakdown in our internal process that led to offensive assertions made by the Federation that do not represent our core values."

She noted that Monday's legal filings in U.S. district court were submitted by Latham & Watkins attorneys Michele Johnson and Jamie Wine after work they had done last week.

"We are going to do a comprehensive review of our internal process to better understand how this breakdown occurred and how it can be avoided in the future," she added. "I expect that review to be completed shortly."

Cone said the last week had been difficult for those involved in American soccer and it came on top of the Coronavirus pandemic.

“It is our obligation to move quickly to repair the damage that has been done," she said. "I am committed to addressing this issue in an honest, transparent and forthright manner.”

Parlow Cone, who earned 158 caps and scored 75 goals for the USA in a career that spanned 12 years, is U.S. Soccer's first female president.

“The WNT is the most successful soccer team in the world," added Cone, who won two Olympic gold medals (1996 and 2004) and one World Cup championship (1999).  "As it relates to the lawsuit filed by the women, I offer the perspective of a former player. I know how important it is for both the federation and the players to move beyond this and keep working together on what unites us. We only have one federation and one senior women’s national team. We have to work together and move forward in a positive manner toward what I know are mutual goals, growing the game and winning.”

In response, Molly Levinson, who has been the spokeswoman for the U.S. women's national team players, said, “These are times for unity, not division. USSF should stop trying to change the conversation and just change. Pay women players equally.”
15 comments about "New U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone moves to address damage caused by legal filing".
  1. Wallace Wade, March 17, 2020 at 8:42 a.m.

    She was the VP when it was filed. She's just as responsible as a Cordeiro. She should resign as well. She didn't know enough to check in with Gulati, who was running Cordeiro as a puppet. 

  2. Bob Ashpole replied, March 17, 2020 at 10:58 a.m.

    While you have a point, I am not concerned about the past. What concerns me today, is the new president is continuing the same exact actions and policies, albeit with politer words and while wearing a skirt. That is what upsets me. No mention of reconsideration or a new direction. 

    Most upsetting of all, if you substituted "Cordiero said" for "she said" in this article, it sounds just like Cordiero sounded while campaigning for president.

  3. humble 1 replied, March 17, 2020 at 1:14 p.m.

    Agree with Bob.  In the midst of snake pit you don't start rattling your saber.  In the best scenario, being VP will enable her to move relatively faster to put out the many fires big and small and get some focus on the mission of USSF.  It's a basket case the entire organization, from the glassdoor to the equal pay to the exclusing of latinos, making everyone live in the soccer desert known as Chicago, we can only imagine what the organizational scenario is like behind these idiotic scandals with friends and family etc, in the hallowed 'Chicago House'.  Major house cleaning required, there are comon sense remedies for all these, focus, direction and leadership are required.  Give her a chance in the drivers seat. 

  4. beautiful game replied, March 22, 2020 at 12:33 a.m.

    Finger pointing is for those that have little or no knolwedge of what happens behind closed doors. It's become a typical reality TV response from those that engage in character assasination before the vetting process of facts is filtered.  

  5. John Soares, March 17, 2020 at 9 a.m.

    A VP often has very little power.
    Let's give her a fair chance.

  6. Ben Myers replied, March 17, 2020 at 12:16 p.m.

    Yes, and this Veep may well have been left in the dark about the disastrous court filing.  We do not know what we do not know.  Cut some slack here.

  7. Bob Ashpole, March 17, 2020 at 9:36 a.m.

    I don't care who is in charge as long as USSF changes for the better.

  8. Americans '75, March 17, 2020 at 11:48 a.m.

    What Soares said! She has the reins now. She has the power now. Let's see if she can do as well as she did on the pitch. 

  9. Wooden Ships, March 17, 2020 at 1:27 p.m.

    Do they (USSF) need to divest themselves from MLS and SUM, for meaningful change? 

  10. Donald Lee replied, March 17, 2020 at 5:07 p.m.

    Has not SUM produced generated the vast majority of USSF revenue?   Why would you want to do that unless your simply in bed with competitor promoters who want to make money off of US soccer at the expense of our American game and USSF?   

  11. R2 Dad replied, March 17, 2020 at 9:20 p.m.

    Many recognize that to rate USSF based on revenue growth and the mere existence of the DA is to shortchange the public and the young players coming up through our system.  Strengthening the business end of the enterprise is necessary, but 20 years of USSF deferring to MLS without any mention or measurement of quality/skills has lead to the Couva debacle while MLS is in fine financial health. But USSF is happy, their voting members are satisfied and have been getting the management they're voting for. It's the non-voting public that pays for MLS, that pays for pay-to-play, that suffers Cordeiro's ineptitude, that attends Nats matches, who is getting the shaft. We get Bruce Arena telling us everything is fine, and social media in a white hot fury because we're no longer just satisfied with mediocrity. USSF owes us a roadmap on how to become a top 5 program, a plan that is open to debate and public feedback so that we can acheive consensus and finally start improving the quality of our players. Short of that, USSF is not holding up their end of the soccer social contract and should be threatened with replacement as a result.

  12. Tim Mccoy, March 17, 2020 at 1:37 p.m.

    If the entire Board was not briefed on the filing, including the specific arguments, then there's a problem with communication between the attorney and the client.  Typically with an issue like this all the "fiduciaries" are briefed regularly and thoroughly because they're all on the hook, not just the President.

  13. Donald Lee replied, March 17, 2020 at 5:08 p.m.

    You know this how?   I've been around non-profits my whole career.  Legal cases get handled without detailed involvement of the board all the time do they not?  If you think not, explain please why you think that.

  14. Bob Ashpole replied, March 17, 2020 at 11:06 p.m.

    Tim, the problem was the "tone" of the arguments rather than the arguments themselves. Labor relations negotiations are typical conducted in a very antagonistic manner. But the negotiations are conducted privately. To the contrary, federal litigation is conducted in public. Federal judges discourage uncivil behavior. The board could have been fully briefed on the arguments, but not informed of the insulting tone of the brief. There may have been miscommunication, but it happens despite the best efforts of all concerned.

    If you recall a couple of years ago, the players replaced their labor relations attorney for being too antagonistic. The USSF stuck with a labor relations firm instead of using a firm that had lawyers that specialised in federal litigation. They too have now brought in different attorneys in a move to make the litigation less antagonistic.

    What I hope is that the parties will jointly request a postponement of the trial and conduct settlement discussions.

  15. R2 Dad, March 17, 2020 at 1:38 p.m.

    I think we should temper our expectations about what CPC will be able to do. The Board is unaffected as it is--lets be honest--primarily a business-oriented organization. CPC can't restructure the board to make it more player-development-oriented vs the current organization/club-oriented focus. I wish her success, but we just changed captains on a cruise ship that's still headed to the same MLS ports of call.  

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