Shamed by players and chastened by outraged sponsors, U.S. Soccer has dropped the sexist and demeaning stereotypes it had used to make its case in a gender discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. women.
U.S. Soccer’s response to a request for summary judgment, filed late Monday night, no longer includes the claim that it is “indisputable `science’” that the women lacked the “skill” of male players. The assertion that the women don’t face the same responsibilities as the U.S. men is also gone.
Instead, it reverts to a previous argument that the U.S. women receive more in total compensation than the U.S. men.
“Last week’s legal filing was an error. 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,” new U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone said in a statement.
“It is our obligation to move quickly to repair the damage that has been done,” added Parlow Cone, a member of the U.S. team that won the 1999 World Cup. “I am committed to addressing this issue in an honest, transparent and forthright manner.”
Parlow Cone’s predecessor, Carlos Cordeiro, resigned Thursday night, bowing to the growing chorus of criticism that followed the misogynistic and demeaning arguments U.S. Soccer had put forward in another legal brief. The U.S. women staged a protest before a match against Japan, turning their warm-up jerseys inside out so the four stars, which represent their World Cup titles, could be seen but the U.S. Soccer crest could not.
Volkswagen, a major federation sponsor, said it was “disgusted” by the position the federation had taken while Coca-Cola called U.S. Soccer’s claims “unacceptable and offensive.”
“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. I expect that review to be completed shortly,” Parlow Cone said.
But U.S. Soccer’s claims of being taken by surprise by the sexism and stereotypes in its previous filing are at odds with the facts. Its lawyers had made it clear during depositions last year that U.S. Soccer’s defense was going to be rooted in misogyny and condescension.
Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan were both asked about losing to teenage boys, the insinuation being that the U.S. women are only good for female players. Kelley O’Hara was asked to explain why the women’s World Cup doesn’t generate the same attention and revenue as the men’s tournament.
U.S. Soccer’s latest argument, that the women agreed to a structure that gives them more guaranteed compensation, has already been rejected by the court, said Molly Levinson, spokeswoman for the U.S. women.
If the U.S. women did earn more, Levinson said, it’s because they played more games and won them.
“What equality requires is the same opportunity to earn as much as the men. This opportunity has been repeatedly denied,” Levinson said.
“These are times for unity, not division. USSF should stop trying to change the conversation and just change. Pay women players equally.”
Follow USA TODAY Sports' Nancy Armour on Twitter @nrarmour.