Court Battles

US Soccer apologizes following equal pay arguments

The U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) apologized on Wednesday for arguing in court that it paid the the U.S. Women’s National Team less than the men’s team because they had less demanding jobs and less physical ability.

“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,” USSF President Carlos Cordeiro said in a statement Wednesday evening, The Associated Press reported.

“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,” he added.

“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,” Cordeiro said.

Players for the women’s team, which has won four World Cups, filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against U.S. Soccer last year over unequal pay. They are seeking $66 million in damages. 

The apology from U.S. Soccer came after a big sponsor, Coca-Cola, condemned the argument. 

Coca-Cola in a statement told Buzzfeed, “We are extremely disappointed with the unacceptable and offensive comments made by U.S. Soccer. We have asked to meet with them immediately to express our concerns.” 

The players, meanwhile, wore their warm-up jerseys inside out before Wednesday’s match with Japan, obscuring the entire logo except for the four stars representing their World Cup championships.

“We wanted to stand together as a team and make a statement on behalf of all women and girls that the federation’s comments are unacceptable,” spokeswoman Molly Levinson said in a statement. “We love this sport and this country, and we cannot stand for this misogynistic treatment.”

Levinson said after the initial U.S. Soccer statement in court that it “sounds as if it has been made by a caveman.”

“Literally everyone in the world understands that an argument that male players ‘have more responsibility’ is just plain simple sexism and illustrates the very gender discrimination that caused us to file this lawsuit to begin with,” she added.

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