U.S. Soccer says it was 'surprised' by USWNT gender discrimination lawsuit

In an open letter, president Carlos Cordeiro has insisted that the governing body is a champion for women’s soccer

U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro has said he was “surprised” by the U.S. women’s national team filing a gender discrimination lawsuit last week. 

Twenty-eight USWNT players filed suit last Friday against the U.S. Soccer Federation in the United States District Court in Los Angeles. 

According to the suit, the USSF has “paid only lip service to gender equality and continues to practice gender-based discrimination against its champion female employees on the WNT in comparison to its less successful male employees on the MNT.”

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The suit is looking to end the discriminatory practices and is also seeking punitive damages, which would likely equal millions of dollars. 

In the week since the suit was filed U.S. Soccer had not issued a response, until Cordeiro posted an open letter Friday.

The letter in part referred to the collective bargaining agreement that U.S. Soccer agreed to with the USWNT in April 2017.

“U.S. Soccer believes that all female athletes deserve fair and equitable pay, and we strive to meet this core value at all times,” the letter stated.

“In April of 2017, we agreed to a fair and equitable collective bargaining agreement with the women’s national team, which included a contract structure that the players specifically requested to provide them with a guaranteed salary and benefits.

“At no point since that time have players raised concerns about the CBA itself, and we continue to work with them in good faith.

“U.S. Soccer has partnered with the USWNT in a sincere effort to listen, provide the very best resources possible to the team and its staff, and advance the women’s game on the field and in the marketplace.

“We were therefore surprised by the complaint filed last week by the U.S. women’s national team.”

Cordeiro also said that he has been in touch this week with some of the team’s leaders to discuss the matter.

“On Wednesday I spoke with some of the veteran players to better understand their thoughts and concerns,” the letter said. “Our initial conversation was open, cordial and professional, and we will continue to work to resolve this matter.”

The USWNT will look to win its second consecutive World Cup this summer in France, with the tournament set to kick off in June. 

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