Women’s National Team Captain Speaks Out for Equal Rights

Alonso Frias, Staff reporter

Megan Rapinoe, US Women’s national soccer team captain, once again used her platform to discuss controversial topics to a broader audience.

On Sept 23, Megan Rapinoe was awarded The Best FIFA Women’s Player of 2019. This award regards her as the best female women’s soccer player of the year by the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). 

This adds to her trophy case that includes two World Cups, Golden Boot (most goals scored in 2019 World Cup), Golden Ball (MVP for 2019 World Cup) and an Olympic gold medal. Rapinoe is also one of many Nike athletes.

Rapinoe started off her acceptance speech with, “I’m having a little bit of a loss for words if you can believe it, that rarely ever happens to me.” Rapinoe has been known for stating she did not want to visit the White House, as the US Women’s National Team captain, after winning the World Cup and trading words with President Trump over Twitter.

Rapinoe mentioned in her speech how two players of color have dealt with problems of “disgusting racism” from the stands, and how an Iranian woman set herself on fire because she was not able to attend a game. 

Celebrities outside of the sports field can either go the Antonio Brown route or the Lebron James route when it comes to wanting to deliver a message. Brown is known for his NFL drama over topics such as using a racial slur against his own boss, while James pushed the “More Than an Athlete” movement. Rapinoe uses every chance she gets to discuss topics such as women’s rights, equal pay, and racism. 

Rapinoe is an advocate for the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network and Athlete Ally. This year she also co-founded a gender-neutral lifestyle brand.

“The countless other female LGBTQ players who fight so hard every day to just play the sport that they love but also fight the rampant homophobia that we have,” said Rapinoe.   

There’s so many famous sports players out in the world and yet not many are willing to speak out against matters that actually matter. 

After her speech, some Twitter users bombarded Rapinoe as arrogant, naive, or just straight up annoying, but she’s at least doing something for the sport other than winning trophies. 

“We have such an incredible opportunity being professional football players…we have incredible platforms,”said Rapinoe. “lend your platform to other people, lift other people up”. 

Rapinoe has gone on programs such as ESPN, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, MSNBC, and CNN to try and push the message on women taking the next step in careers, Trump actually helping Americans and equal pay with thousands watching.

There have been rumors of a possible offer from spanish giants FC Barcelona to buy Rapinoe but her head should be more focused on being the president of the Women’s soccer federation. 

Equal pay, women’s rights, and LGBTQ awareness are topics that have been avoided by athletes over the years and there is always growing movements in distinct cities and communities. 

FIFA has also been trying to push away racism in the stands in both league and international games. 

These movements need an extra push from professional athletes since they have a “higher voice” compared to the common American. 

Presidential candidates, such as Bernie Sanders, have also mentioned topics such as equal pay. Sanders tweeted, “Equal pay for equal work is an issue of basic justice.” 

Rapinoe believes the women’s national team does the same, or even more with the trophies won, than the men’s team.

Rapinoe needs to get over the idea of fans clamoring that women are not paid the same because they don’t bring in the same revenue or media attention, and instead try to persuade other athletes, be it male or female, to deliver the same message using their platform. 

Rapinoe concluded with, “If we really want to have meaningful change but what I think is most inspiring would be everyone other than [the players who spoke out on racism] was as outraged about racism…homophobia as the LGBTQ players, equal pay or the lack there of investment in the women’s game other than just women, that would be the most inspiring thing to me.”