US captain and World Cup hero Megan Rapinoe has called on fellow footballers to tackle racism, sexism and homophobia in the sport after winning FIFA’s top women’s player award.
Rapinoe, 34, claimed the Golden Ball for being the best player at the 2019 Women’s World Cup as she helped the United States win the competition.
Rapinoe scored six times during the Women’s World Cup, including the opener in the final, and has also been a leading personality in the fight for equality in sport both at home in the US and globally.
Before the final, she accused FIFA, football’s governing body, of not showing women’s football enough respect as the game was played on the same date as the men’s Copa America and Gold Cup finals.
Rapinoe has also called for the United States women’s team to be paid the same as their male counterparts.
In a very moving and powerful speech when collecting her award from FIFA president Gianni Infantino, she highlighted the racism, homophobia and inequalities that she said still exist in football.
She said: “Some of the stories that inspired me this year are Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling and Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly – their incredible performances on the field and their reaction to the disgusting racism they have to face, this year but probably for their whole lives.
“I feel like if we really want to have meaningful change, what I think is most inspiring would be if everybody other than Sterling and Koulibaly were as outraged about racism as they were.
“If everybody was as outraged about homophobia as the LGBTQ players, if everybody was as outraged about equal pay or the lack thereof, or the lack of investment in the women’s game, other than just women, that would be the most inspiring thing to me.
“We have such an incredible opportunity being professional footballers, so much success, an incredible platform.
“I ask everyone here, lend your platform to other people, share your success. We have a unique opportunity to use this game to actually change the world for better. I hope you take that to heart, do something, we have incredible power in this room.”
Before handing the award to Rapinoe, Infantino himself said more would be done to stop racism in football. He said: “This is not acceptable. We have to say this. We have to say no to racism.
“In whatever form, no to racism in football, no to racism in society. But we can’t just say it, we must fight it, kick it out of football and society once and for all.”
Author: Moses Echodu
Moses is a freelance writer for Newslibre and Programs Manager at the Craft Silicon Foundation. He loves writing about sports, politics and news around the globe and Inspiring new young people!!