March 12, 2020 / 3:58 AM / in 4 months

U.S. Soccer apologizes after court filing remarks spark outrage

(Reuters) - U.S. Soccer President Carlos Cordeiro apologized on Wednesday for language in a court filing made by the federation in a legal dispute with its women’s national team over pay equity.

FILE PHOTO: Mar 8, 2020; Harrison, New Jersey, USA; President of the United States Soccer Federation Carlos Cordeiro looks on during introductions before the USA plays Spain in the 2020 She Believes Cup soccer series at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The filing said men’s national team players had a greater level of responsibility than the women and that their job “requires a higher level of skill based on speed and strength”.

The language sparked outrage and prompted an on-field protest by players, while sponsor Coca-Cola told the Wall Street Journal here it found the language used in the filing "unacceptable and offensive."

“I sincerely apologise for the offence and pain caused by language in this week’s court filing, which did not reflect the values of our federation,” Cordeiro said in a written statement.

“Even as we continue to defend the Federation in court, we are making immediate changes.

“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.”

The women’s team sued the U.S. Soccer Federation for gender discrimination just over a year ago in a lawsuit that included complaints about wages and working conditions.

A trial date has been set for May 5 after talks between the two parties broke down.

On Wednesday, members of the U.S. women’s’ team took the field for their third and final SheBelieves Cup game against Japan with their warmup jerseys worn inside out to obscure the U.S. Soccer logo in protest.

After the match, which the United States won 3-1, co-captain Megan Rapinoe said the language in the court filing reflected “blatant misogyny and sexism.”

“Their argument keeps changing, ours has stayed the same,” said Rapinoe.

Reporting By Amy Tennery; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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