American striker Megan Rapino about the future of her country and her career.
Megan Rapino, two-time World Cup winner, Olympic champion and Golden Ball winner. She is also one of the most influential voices in the field of sports.
The American woman is a tireless advocate of racism, sexism and homophobia and is the leading voice in the campaign for equal pay for the American women’s team.
In 2016 Rapinoe was the first white American athlete to kneel in solidarity with Colin Kepernick during the national anthem.
However, this decision – a gesture of protest against racial inequality and police violence – made him feel that his international career was in danger.
The sport told the 35-year-old about protests, the white privilege and the global development of women’s football.
Gripping the knee
In his autobiography One Life, Rapino writes about the lack of support she received from American football and then from coach Jill Ellis when she knelt down to listen to the national anthem.
I’m proud of that, to be honest. I’m proud to say and do what’s right. I feel like this is the way change happens.
Every time someone tries to explain or argue with me about kneeling or arguing, it’s just a big, clumsy, patriotic mess, isn’t it? When I grabbed my knee, I understood better what I was doing, how I supported Colin and I refined my decision.
It was a bad time. I certainly felt that my international career was in a bit of danger.
She showed me many real faces around me in many ways. The critics shouted very loudly and I had a federation that clearly didn’t support me and I felt like a coach who didn’t really support me, but there were so many people around me who always stayed close to me and were with me the whole time.
But it’s up to you to choose what you do in the world. You just have to be willing to accept the consequences of your actions.
Other white athletes say
Megan Rapinoe knelted for the American national anthem before the United States played a friendly game in Thailand in September 2016.
For Rapinoe white athletes have to use their platform to give a voice to others.
In many cases, white athletes, especially male athletes, do not feel the effect that other people have; they do not feel the effect of racism, sexism, misogyny or pay inequality.
We don’t talk because we’re privileged and we don’t have to. This is partly due to a lack of study of your own life and the world around you.
For whites, and perhaps for whites in general, it is not necessary to analyse the world around you to be successful. For example, if you are homosexual, you are constantly travelling in the heterosexual world.
Even if it is not necessarily the fault of the people – the people who were born now did not create the earth as it was – it does not mean that you are not responsible.
About what it means to them to be a public figure.
Rapino recently proposed to his ex-girlfriend, the American basketball star Sue Byrd.
You can look like me and be gay. You can look like Sue and be gay. It gives people the confidence to be themselves.
I think in many cases there is a general cliché that it is harder to be gay; most people fight it or their families fight it.
They say if you could do it again, you wouldn’t choose to be gay, you wouldn’t choose to have a harder life. Well, I disagree. I like being gay. I think it’s great.
I hope that we just live the way we live, that we start to show how positive this can be, not only for us, but also for society and health.
About the future of women’s football
The 2020 season of the National Women’s Football League has been postponed in America due to the coronavirus pandemic, and several world champions have come to England to participate in WSL.
I think women’s football in England is the same as in America – it’s so far behind because we’ve had so much to overcome due to a lack of investment.
The year is 2020. How long has the Premier League existed? And the only thing we see is a club like Manchester United making an effort and putting weight on the women’s team? Honestly, it’s embarrassing.
Some of my teammates go abroad and play while I train, hoping we’ll eventually get out of this hellish landscape.
I want to keep playing. I’m certainly not retired. I’d like to compete in the Olympics.
After the Olympics I have to look at the next three years. We’re a year away from the next world championships and it’s pretty tempting. We’ll leave it in the open…