(Brad Smith/ISI Photos)

United States women’s national team players held a joint press conference with U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone on Tuesday, hours after reaching a settlement in their equal pay lawsuit. As part of the resolution, U.S. Soccer has agreed to commit $22 million in direct compensation to the players and promised equal pay between the men’s and women’s senior national teams.

The lawsuit began in 2019 under the leadership of former U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro, who resigned in March 2020 amid backlash over the federation’s approach in court filings. In one document, U.S. Soccer and its lawyers argued that that women’s national team players “do not perform equal work requiring equal skill [and] effort” as the men because “the overall soccer-playing ability required to compete at the senior men’s national team level is materially influenced by the level of certain physical attributes such as speed and strength.”

U.S. Soccer sponsors blasted the federation’s stance and pressured Cordeiro to resign. At the time, he said he had not reviewed the filings but took responsibility for the language.

In January, Cordeiro announced he would run again for U.S. Soccer president, pitting him against Cone in an election to be decided on March 5.

During the press conference Tuesday, Cone said that she can “understand the frustration” players felt during Cordeiro’s presidency. While Megan Rapinoe openly endorsed Cone for president, other players suggested similar feelings.

“I think Carlos does know my last name, but he’s certainly not getting my vote, that’s for sure,” said Rapinoe.

“The time and energy and the rollercoaster, the unsuccessful mediations, we’ll call them,” she added, “just letting it soak in from our perspective how incredible this is. I just couldn’t be prouder or more honored to be a part of it … to have a former player [Cone] … take it over the finish line.”

Becky Sauerbrunn credited Cone with helping repair the relationship between the federation and the players since she assumed the role in 2020.

“You became president at a time when I think our relationship with the federation was at its worst,” Sauerbrunn said. “You opened up dialogue with the players and you did exactly what you said you were going to do. We really look forward to building that relationship.”

Still, Alex Morgan maintained that the upcoming U.S. Soccer election didn’t directly influence the timing of the settlement.

“We inched toward this moment for months and months,” she said.