The U.S. Soccer Federation will reconsider staging matches or conducting other events in North Carolina in the wake of state legislation that critics have called discriminatory against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, federation President Sunil Gulati told the Insider on Wednesday.
“Given the legislation, I’ve asked the people who handle our games to reconsider,” he said. “We think the legislation in the year 2016 goes far beyond anything that is appropriate in trying to balance the positions of religious organizations and the long, hard-earned rights by the LGBT community and others.”
The USSF joins several other organizations critical of the law, which was introduced and passed in a one-day special legislative session last week. Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, has defended the action. Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat who will challenge McCrory in the gubernatorial race this fall, is against the law and has refused to defend the state against a suit brought by transgender individuals and civil rights groups.
The law requires transgender people to use public bathrooms that match their birth certificates. The law also says local measures, such as one in Charlotte, can’t expand anti-discrimination protections for sexual orientation or gender identity.
Cooper said the bathroom ban was a “national embarrassment.”
Dozens of big companies are urging North Carolina officials to repeal the law, while several cities have ordered employees on official business to avoid the state. The NBA has hinted at moving the 2017 All-Star Game, scheduled to be played next winter in Charlotte.
The USSF does not schedule games in North Carolina often. The men’s national team has not appeared there since 2006, in Cary, but conducted World Cup training camp in that suburb of Raleigh in both 2002 and 2006. The world champion women’s squad visited Cary in August 2014 to play Switzerland in a friendly at sold-out WakeMed Soccer Park. Charlotte was in the mix for unspecified U.S. matches next year, Gulati said.
Asked if the USSF would consider avoiding other states with similar laws, Gulati said: “We looked at the Arizona issue a few years ago and continue to monitor issues that most of the country believes in and has come to accept. … Certainly we think more tolerance and openness is a good thing.”