U.S. Soccer chief legal officer Lydia Wahlke resigns amid investigation
Lydia Wahlke has resigned as the U.S. Soccer Federation's chief legal officer, the USSF has confirmed to ESPN.
Grant Wahl was the first to report the news.
In a statement to ESPN, the USSF said that Wahlke had resigned her position and "agreed to provide consulting services as requested through Sept. 15. We would like to thank Lydia for all her hard work and dedication during her time with U.S. Soccer, and wish her the best in her future endeavors."
Wahlke's decision comes in the wake of an investigation by an outside law firm into the USSF's legal strategy as it pertained to the equal pay lawsuit filed by members of the U.S. women's national team. Earlier this year, the USSF and its lawyers filed documents containing inflammatory language stating that the players didn't have the same skill, ability, and responsibility as their male counterparts.
Then-USSF president Carlos Cordeiro said he hadn't read the filing before it was submitted to the court, but the uproar that ensued resulted in his resignation, with Cindy Parlow Cone replacing him.
"It should be clear that while Carlos Cordeiro did not review or approve of the offensive language in the filing, by personally resigning he decided to put the best interest of U.S. Soccer first," Parlow Cone said in a statement.
The USSF also switched law firms, and the inflammatory language was removed in subsequent filings. Wahlke was placed on administrative leave while the investigation took place.
It later emerged that Cone was part of an internal litigation committee that included USSF board members Patti Hart and Tim Turney. In a conference call with reporters back in March, Cone said that neither she nor any other board member had seen the filing before it was submitted, and that this was down to an "error" in the USSF's internal processes.
The USSF said it wouldn't make the findings of the investigation public.
No board members are expected to lose their positions as a result of the investigation.
"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 USSF said.
The statement added: "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."
In filing the suit, the players had alleged that the USSF had violated the Equal Pay Act as well as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act by paying them less than members of the U.S. men's national team. Earlier this month in federal court, Judge R. Gary Klausner ruled against the players on many of the key points in the suite, granting the USSF partial summary judgement on the Equal Pay Act claims, and some of the Title VII claims, leaving only Title VII issues regarding discrimination in charter flights and hotel accommodations and medical and training support. The players have appealed Klausner's ruling.