It wasn’t quite a Friday night news dump, but coming in the wake of a pandemic and the world’s first mass-sports suspension, it still made for tidy cover for something slimy to slither out the side door without anyone noticing. Last night, after all North American pro sports leagues were suspending games, and soccer leagues worldwide doing the same, U.S. Soccer Federation president Carlos Cordeiro announced his resignation. While the immediacy was probably required, it’s also highly unlikely Cordeiro didn’t appreciate the cloak all that preceded his announcement provided.
In case you aren’t familiar why Cordeiro was trying to tip-toe to the door before the lights came on, here a snippet for you:
If you were thinking that the US Women’s National Team’s fight for equal pay was rudimentary at this point, congratulations, you’ll never work for USSF. And clearly the arguments against it have gotten to Skinner-Chalmers proportions. The whole thread is worth your time, but the highlights were: The Women’s team isn’t as skilled (stretching my calves on the window sill…), it’s harder for the men because they often play in split or hostile stadiums on US soil (steamed hams…), more people watch the Men’s team than the Women’s (It’s a strictly Albany expression…)
One wonders where the USSF found the drunken Mad Men extras as a legal team to go along with this filing, but then again most with anyone near the requisite level of oxygen intake to maintain brain function waved their hands in dismissal at the organization long ago.
It’s hard to know where to start with all of this. The argument that the men are more skilled sounds kind of hollow when you’re talking about the two-time defending World Cup champions. And it’s still the same job, even if they’re not mixed. They’re representing the country at the uppermost level of international football. They’re the best the country has to offer, just as the men are on that team (although watching Michael Bradley and his cane still occasionally stagger around midfield makes one maniacally laugh or cry or both at that previous statement).
For me, the “hostile crowd” argument is the true treasure, as it would seem that responsibility lies with the federation more than the players. Unless it was in Christian Pulisic’s job description to screen fans buying tickets or entering the stadium. While the USSF would have come under scrutiny and criticism for trying to “screen” fans and that doesn’t really work anyway (ask the Brewers), it’s hardly unheard of. You could easily state that it’s on the USSF for failing to field a men’s team that the masses have an interest in watching. And it’s the USSF who schedules yearly friendlies with Mexlco in locales like LA, Dallas, and Arizona, and they’re not doing it out of the goodness of their hearts to be kind to US-based Mexican fans.
The TV Ratings argument also falls flat with a prime whoopi-cushion sound as last year’s Women’s Final was watched by more people here than the previous Men’s World Cup Final, and even last year’s She Believes Cup games were drawing more eyes than whatever friendly Gregg Berhalter and his keen eye for a sweater were slothing their way through in some vague hint of a coherent formation. These legal strategy meetings at USSF will redefine the term “post-modern,” you’d have to believe.
Cordeiro was already facing the knives before he had to jump last night by releasing a letter to the press outlining the USSF’s arguments against the USWNT’s claims and their equal pay lawsuit. It also just happened to be on the eve of International Women’s Day, in a true coup de stupid that can only be conjured up in the deepest recesses of a frat house. The women’s team responded by wearing their warmups inside out. In it, Cordeiro claimed that the USWNT is asking the USSF to make up the difference in prize money for the women’s and men’s World Cup, a claim the representatives of the USWNT dispute.
Cordeiro was also being pushed by sponsors coming out in defiance of his letter and legal arguments, and boy have you really tripped on your own dick when mega companies are trying to distance themselves.
Cordeiro’s whole reign has been viewed with skepticism by close US watchers, as he was elected in the wake of the USMNT’s full-body dry heave to fail to qualify for the World Cup in Russia. At the time, there was real hope that after reaching bottom on the men’s side, a true outsider could come in and change the way the whole structure, both men’s and women’s, could be altered so that the US could produce more great players, and perhaps a couple world-class ones on the men’s side, instead of still being beholden to the travel team/scholarship/moneyed interest system that sees far too many talented players of lesser means left out. Cordeiro was seen as just another old boy, and he sure didn’t disappoint in living “up” to that.
(It should be said that Europe’s rapid increase of its academy system in the women’s game is seeing more and more teams get closer to the U.S. and they may soon have some of the same problems on the field that the U.S. Men do, i.e. lacking in technical ability over athleticism.. Spain last week and Holland in the W.C. final were able to ping the ball around at times better than the U.S., and it’s the U.S.’s greater athleticism that sees them through at times. The U.S. women will always have the advantage of perhaps the world’s largest player pool to make up for this, however)
It’s always crucial to point out that the USSF is technically a non-profit, and hence the greater resources, though a mere drop in the bucket for them, it would take to pay the women equally shouldn’t really matter when it comes to their profits. But pretending to live in that world would requires drugs I can no longer find.
Cindy Parlow Cone, a former USWNT player, will fill in as president for the next year, when the USSF can start this rigamarole again and pass on the chance to make a definitive change. This is an organization that thought the answer to its men’s team ending upside down in a trash can with their legs waving around against T&T to miss out on Russia was to create more bureaucracy, as well as for the women’s team that seemingly didn’t have any problems with on-field matters, by inventing a general manager role that no one else in the world has and is usually covered by a manager. Create an unnecessary job to be filled by an old boy who gets to act important while doing nothing. How American.
Perhaps after all this, the USSF will come to the realization that taking this dispute all the way to trial would be a Custer-esque strategy, and the USWNT can finally get what they’ve earned long ago. But I have a tendency to overdose on logic.