NEW YORK – The newly installed president and executive director of the U.S. Football Federation used his first press conference to affirm that resolving an action brought by players from the national women's team is a priority.
“A lot of damage was done and I think we will have to rebuild that trust and rebuild the relationship. It will not happen overnight, ”said President Cindy Parlow Cone on Tuesday. "It will take a lot of effort, time and energy on the US side to rebuild that trust, not only with the players of the US women's national team, but also with fans and everyone involved in the sport."
The players claim that they have not been paid equally to the national men's team and have asked for more than $ 66 million in damages under the Equal Pay Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. A trial is scheduled for May 5 at Los Angeles federal court.
"The solution here is clear, simple and unambiguous: equal pay," said Molly Levinson, spokesperson for the players.
In the legal documents presented this month before the trial, the The USSF claimed that the women's team did not have the same physical skills or responsibilities as a male team. At that caused a furor this included a field protest by players wearing their warm-up shirts from the inside to hide the USSF crest. The outcry led to the resignation of USSF President Carlos Cordeiro and caused the federation to change its main law firm.
Legal director Lydia Wahlke was placed on an administrative license, which was first reported on Tuesday by ESPN. The Parlow Cone said an outside company was hired to review the USSF's decision-making that led to the summaries "to see where that process was broken". She hopes to schedule deal negotiations.
"I don't think a trial is good for either party or football," said Parlow Cone.
41-year-old Olympic champion at the World Cup and Olympian, Parlow Cone was vice president of the USSF before Cordeiro left on March 12.
“The comments and language on the last record,” said Parlow Cone, “I think that not only did it damage our relationship with the national women's team, but it also hurt women and girls in general and, as a former national player, they were personally harmed by me . "
Will Wilson, a former MLS executive and uncle to retired NFL quarterback Andrew Luck, was hired as CEO Monday to replace Dan Flynn, who retired in September. Wilson, 52, was co-head of the NFL division of the Wasserman Media Group, which represents players.
"The writing and comments presented were downright shocking and very, very disappointing for me," said Wilson.
Parlow Cone said he is on the USSF board's special litigation committee, along with youth council representative Tim Turney and independent director Patti Hart. She said the committee never had a chance to review the files before they were submitted to the court.
"There was a fundamental error in our processes," said Parlow Cone.
She made a distinction between this month's filing and the federation's previous legal arguments.
"I think it's one thing to argue that men and women play in different tournaments and play against different teams, and it's a totally different statement to say that, therefore, women have less responsibility or less capacity," said Parlow Cone.
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She said it was too early to decide whether to run in February to complete the final year of Cordeiro's term. The Parlow Cone also said that the USSF is open to having women and men negotiating together for a common labor agreement, but that decision rests with the two unions under federal labor law.
Wilson, who said he received a multi-year contract, said it was unclear whether postponing the Olympics would cause Nike and other sponsors to cut payments to the USSF this year. It is likely that he will participate in the organization of the 2026 World Cup, which the US will co-host with Mexico and Canada.
In addition, the USSF faces antitrust lawsuits by prosecutor Releventseeking to allow foreign leagues to play in the U.S. and the lower-level North American Football League, which stopped playing after 2017 and wanted a promotion and demotion system.
The U.S. national men's team has been without a collective bargaining agreement since December 2018. Some federation officials have complained about working conditions under Flynn and his number 2, commercial and strategy director Jay Berhalter – brother of men's team coach Gregg Berhalter. Jay Berhalter left the USSF last month, when it became clear that he would not be successful at Flynn.
“Yes, there are problems. That's obvious, "said Wilson." But for me it was the fact that we have to deal with them and find resolutions, attack culture and really create a place that people want to be and want to work in. "
US District Judge R. Gary Klausner canceled a hearing on March 30 to decide summary trial motions on each side and will issue his decisions based on written observations.