Lydia Wahlke has resigned as chief legal officer of the U.S. Soccer Federation, as first reported by Grant Wahl on Thursday. U.S. Soccer confirmed the news to The Equalizer.
In a statement, a U.S. Soccer spokesperson said that Wahlke will continue to provide consulting services through Sept. 15. Wahlke’s resignation comes following an outside law firm’s review of the process which led to U.S. Soccer’s previous counsel arguing that women are athletically and physically inferior to men, as part of the federation’s ongoing defense against the women’s national team players’ gender discrimination lawsuit.
Carlos Cordeiro resigned as U.S. Soccer president the same week those court documents were filed, taking full blame while saying that he never saw the specific argument before it was filed. New president Cindy Parlow Cone (assuming the role as previous VP) said repeatedly that she didn’t see the documents before they were filed, either, calling the language offensive and saying they were erroneously filed. Wahlke, in her role as chief legal officer, was the top-ranking legal official employed by the federation.
“We retained an outside law firm to conduct a confidential and privileged review into matters related to a pending lawsuit,” U.S. Soccer’s statement read. “With the lawsuit still pending, we have been advised by our attorneys that we should not publish the report or disclose the entire substance of counsel’s conclusions, and we are following that advice.”
The counsel which made the controversial argument was dropped by U.S. Soccer and those statements were retracted from court. U.S. Soccer earlier this month won a partial summary judgment in which California central district judge R. Gary Klausner sided with many of U.S. Soccer’s main defense arguments (the players say they plan to appeal).
Parlow Cone and new U.S. Soccer CEO Will Wilson said last month that they hope to find a quick resolution to the gender discrimination lawsuit.
A U.S. Soccer spokesperson declined to share the specific findings of the review on Thursday, instead offering this statement:
“As you are aware, Cindy has already stated publicly that she did not see the brief before it was filed with the court in California. Based on the advice of our counsel in the pending lawsuit, we are not in a position to discuss the details of the review or the conclusions reached by the outside law firm.
“Moving forward, substantial legal filings of this nature will be required to be shared with the President, members of our Board, and others within the Federation for review in a timely manner to ensure we do not encounter a similar situation where language inserted by outside counsel would be in contrast with the Federation’s philosophy and beliefs.”