Women we love: Megan Rapinoe – the football star who leads from the front
After leading the US team to victory at the Women’s Football World Cup, Megan Rapinoe is on a career high.
A striker, Rapinoe finished the World Cup with six goals and three assists – she was awarded the Golden Ball, which goes to the tournament’s top player, as well as the Golden Boot.
“It’s a little strange going through most of my career and then at the end of it becoming this player…” Rapinoe told the BBC.
But Rapinoe is looking beyond what happens on the pitch, turning her attention to the fight for equality – focusing on racism, gender, and sexuality.
In terms of queer professional sportspeople, there’s not many that currently rival Rapinoe’s profile. Her impact is perhaps heightened in that she’s in a relationship with Sue Bird – a professional basketball player who has represented the US at the Olympics. They’re the ultimate lesbian power couple.
Rapinoe on racism
“If there’s ever an instance of racism, if every single player on the field is not outraged then to me they’re part of the problem…” said Rapinoe, talking to the BBC.
Rapinoe doesn’t believe that current sanctions for racism are tough enough.
“For me I’m just like, make it super extreme so it’s damaging to the team, to the federation, so it’s damaging financially.”
Rapinoe on sexuality
“Eventually the environment will be different where you feel like you can come out…” said Rapinoe, reflecting on why so few male football players have talked publicly about their sexuality. “We’re trying to make it better and set the environment so when you are ready to come out, the environment is ready for you.”
Rapinoe on equal pay
“Don’t settle for anything less, go for equal, go for more, don’t accept any of these sort of antiquated and BS answers…” said Rapinoe, talking about her fight to secure equal pay for the women’s team. “Especially when it comes to sport there’s been such a lack of investment for such a long period of time, so any direct comparison to the men’s sports or the men’s leagues is just wholly unfair.”
“Until we have equal investment and over investment really, because we’ve been so underserved for so long, we’re not going to have any sort of meaningful conversation about compensation and revenues and TV viewership.”
“I know it’s frustrating and hard – at times you feel like you’re banging your head against a wall – but we’re sort of in it anyways. It’s a fact of life for us so we might as well fight like hell.”