Los Angeles (AFP) – Former United States Soccer Federation president Carlos Cordeiro launched a bid to be re-elected to the job on Wednesday, two years after resigning over sexism allegations during the governing body’s legal battle with the US women’s team.

In an open letter published on his campaign website, Cordeiro said he would seek re-election at a vote in March after being encouraged to run by members throughout the US federation.

“I’m running for US Soccer President because I believe that the years ahead will be the most important period in the history of our Federation and a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform soccer in America for decades to come,” Cordeiro said, citing the importance of the 2026 World Cup to be staged in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Cordeiro stepped down as president in March 2020 amid uproar over a USSF legal filing in response to the US women’s team’s gender discrimination lawsuit.

The US Soccer filing argued that playing on the men’s US national team “requires a higher level of skill based on strength and speed” than playing on the women’s team.

With US Soccer sponsors leading criticism, Cordeiro resigned after describing the language in the court documents as “unacceptable and inexcusable.”

He was replaced as USSF president by former international Cindy Parlow Cone, who has already signalled she will seek re-election in March.

In his election pitch on Wednesday, Cordeiro said he believed his resignation was “in the best interests of US Soccer at that moment.”

He blamed a failure of proper oversight of the legal proceedings for the furor.

“I had put in place multiple layers of oversight to ensure that the litigation with the Women’s National Team was conducted in keeping with the values of our Federation,” he said. 

“In hindsight, I realize that a matter of this importance deserved much more personal oversight from me so that the Federation’s legal strategy and filings showed our women’s players the respect and dignity they deserve.

“When those layers of oversight failed, it resulted in the inexcusable and offensive legal filing that caused so much pain, especially for our incredible women’s players. Had I seen that language, I would have objected and never allowed it to be submitted as written.”

“Given the severity of what happened, words of apology were clearly not enough.”

US international Megan Rapinoe, one of the federation’s staunchest critics, said the filing reflected “blatant sexism.”

On Tuesday, Rapinoe took aim at Cordeiro once again, responding to reports he would seek re-election by accusing the official of “caveman levels of misogyny”.