Tag Archives: Rapinoe

Megan Rapinoe returns to U.S. national team after year-long absence

It was quite a year for Megan Rapinoe. Her book came out, she hosted an HBO special and she got engaged to girlfriend Sue Bird.

One thing was largely missing, however: soccer.

That’s changing now that Rapinoe has returned to the U.S. national team for its January training camp in Florida after sitting out most of last year.

“I actually feel really good physically and just refreshed in a lot of ways, mentally and emotionally. I’ve spent obviously a lot of time quarantining at home with Sue and just being able to relax,” Rapinoe said Tuesday on a conference call with reporters.

“But I’m obviously so excited to start playing again. It was really difficult to not be out on the field with my teammates and to not have a consistent training environment. Anyone who really knows me knows I hate to work out on my own as it is.”

When the coronavirus began to take hold in the United States last March and the National Women’s Soccer League called off its season, Rapinoe — who plays for OL Reign — hunkered down at home.

She opted out of the NWSL’s Challenge Cup tournament in a bubble in Utah last summer and the league’s fall series. She also opted out of the national team’s October camp.

She said part of her reasoning for the break was fear of COVID-19, but she was also exhausted from the whirlwind that came after the U.S. victory in the World Cup in France. Rapinoe earned FIFA Best Player and Ballon d’Or honours following her play in soccer’s premier tournament.


The last time Rapinoe played for the national team was on March 11, when she scored in a 3-1 SheBelieves Cup victory over Japan.

The game was notable because the national team players, embroiled in a contentious discrimination lawsuit over equal pay with U.S. Soccer, wore warmup jerseys inside out in protest of the federation’s controversial tactics in defending the suit. That ultimately led to the resignation of U.S. Soccer President Carlos Cordeiro.

The national team settled its dispute with the federation over unequal working conditions in December, leaving the pay dispute still unresolved.

Throughout her career, Rapinoe has been a vocal advocate for equal pay and other social justice issues, including LGBTQ rights. She sparred with President Donald Trump via Twitter during the World Cup and last year was involved in get-out-the-vote initiatives in support of President-elect Joe Biden.

She called last week’s riot at the U.S. Capitol “very unsettling and scary.”

“I think the courage of the lawmakers to get back in there and continue their work, and the utter bottomlessness of some of these lawmakers to continue to incite violence and still call for overturning the election when the mandate’s been given by the United States and by the people of United States, is just absolutely insane,” she said. “They should be held accountable.”

Rapinoe got emotional when she was asked about how she felt watching fellow NWSL players kneel and speak out against systemic racism during the Challenge Cup. In 2016, Rapinoe knelt in solidarity with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. U.S. Soccer reacted by prohibiting players from kneeling during the anthem, a rule that was rescinded last June.

“I have just a huge amount of pride and respect for so many people going through the journey and learning and growing, and feeling more comfortable speaking out about things,” she said. “What we saw through the summer and just through the pandemic, with the protests, hopefully a lot of people’s eyes are opened up, particularly my fellow white teammates.”

Kept busy in time off

She praised U.S. Soccer for apologizing over the ban.

Rapinoe, 35, has scored 52 goals with 68 assists in 168 appearances with the national team since her first call-up in 2006. She scored on a penalty kick in the United States’ victory over the Netherlands in the 2019 World Cup final.

During her break this summer, she hosted the HBO special “Seeing America,” which included U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and she released a memoir, “One Life.” In October, she and WNBA veteran Sue Bird announced their engagement.

Coach Vlatko Andonovski said Rapinoe has not disregarded her fitness during the layoff. He expects Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd, who hasn’t played since last spring because of injury, to get minutes in a pair of exhibition games against Colombia later this month in Orlando.

“Megan and Carli have been doing a tremendous, tremendous job. Our high performance department, high performance coach, has been monitoring everything that they’re doing,” Andonovski said. “We have a pretty good idea of where they stand. In fact, both of them are a little bit ahead of what we expected them to be in January camp from the physical standpoint.”

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World Cup winner Megan Rapinoe, WNBA champion Sue Bird announce engagement

Two-time soccer World Cup winner Megan Rapinoe and 11-time WNBA All-Star Sue Bird are getting hitched.

The sports power couple announced their engagement with a photo posted to Bird’s Instagram account on Friday and a representative for Rapinoe confirmed the news to Reuters, as congratulations for the couple poured in across social media.

Four-time Olympic gold medallist Bird, 40, won her fourth WNBA title with the Storm earlier this month, bouncing back after missing all of the 2019 season due to a knee injury.

Rapinoe, who claimed the Ballon d’Or in 2019 after a career-defining year in which she won her second World Cup title, along with the Golden Boot and Golden Ball, was a regular fixture on the sidelines during the 2020 WNBA season, which took place entirely inside a quarantined setting in Bradenton, Florida, due to the new coronavirus.


The pair, who have been an item for more than three years, became the first openly LGBT couple to appear in the ESPN “Body Issue” in 2018, and have together been vocal advocates for a variety of political and social causes.

The announcement prompted well-wishes from numerous high-profile figures in sport and politics.

“Love will always win,” tweeted former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee. “Congratulations, @S10Bird and @mPinoe!”

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Megan Rapinoe among U.S. players opting out of NWSL tournament

U.S. national team players Megan Rapinoe, Tobin Heath and Christen Press have opted out of the National Women’s Soccer League tournament this weekend in Utah.

Heath and Press, who played with Rapinoe on the champion World Cup team last summer in France, cited concerns about the coronavirus for their decisions not to play.

“Although I want to be on the field with my teammates doing what I love, because of the uncertainty and risks created by COVID-19, I have chosen not to participate in the NWSL Challenge Cup,” Heath, who plays for the Portland Thorns, said in a statement released by the team.

The Challenge Cup opens Saturday with a game between the Thorns and the defending champion North Carolina Courage. The league’s teams announced their rosters on Tuesday.

Among the national team players taking part in the tournament are Chicago’s Julie Ertz, U.S. Soccer’s player of the year, and teammate Alyssa Naeher, North Carolina’s Crystal Dunn and Portland’s Becky Sauerbrunn.

The league was rocked by the announcement Monday that the Orlando Pride were dropping out of the tournament after six players and four staff members tested positive for COVID-19. The withdrawal leaves eight teams participating in the month-long tournament.

WATCH | Pro leagues plan return despite growing COVID-19 rates:

As professional sports leagues plot their return to action, CBC News’ Cameron MacIntosh details the recent spike in the number of athletes who have contracted COVID-19. 2:43

In an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday, NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird said the situation was “hugely” disappointing, given some of the talent on the Pride, including national team players Ali Krieger, Ashlynn Harris, Emily Sonnett and Brazilian star Marta.

“We’re just really concerned about them [the Pride players] and really disappointed that we won’t see them,” Baird said. “But we’re focusing on what we need to be focused on right now, which is to make sure that the facility, the protocols, all of the player education regarding all the tournament rules and the CDC guidelines or protocols, are in place because tomorrow we start welcoming our first team in Utah.”

A new schedule was released Tuesday following the Pride’s withdrawal. In addition to Portland’s game against the Courage on Saturday, the Chicago Red Stars will play the Washington Spirit in the late match.

Sitting out ‘deeply painful’

Rapinoe’s team, OL Reign, did not provide a reason for her decision to sit out.

“Megan let us know that she has decided not play in the tournament. Like all NWSL players, she was given the option to participate. Farid [Benstiti, coach of the Reign] and I would love to have her with the club for the tournament, but we understand and respect her decision,” Reign CEO Bill Predmore said in a statement.

Press released a statement through her team, the Utah Royals, that said: “It is deeply painful not to be able to play the game I love, and to watch the broader effects of the global pandemic on our league, sports, and our world. Regrettably, given the uncertainty created by COVID-19, I must elect not to participate in this tournament. I know how fortunate I am to be able to make this choice.

“I have enormous respect and gratitude for those who do not have the luxury to choose whether to report to work, including our selfless and heroic first responders.”

Sky Blue previously announced that Carli Lloyd would not take part in the tournament because of a minor left knee injury. Teammate Mallory Pugh won’t play because of a hip injury.

The NWSL is the first team sport in the United States to return after sports were shut down because of the coronavirus outbreak. Players were given the option of opting out without losing salaries or insurance.

Teams will be sequestered during the tournament and games will be played at stadiums in Herriman and Sandy, which are suburbs of Salt Lake City. The tournament will run through July 26.

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U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe becomes 4th woman to win SI’s Sportsperson of the Year

U.S. national team star Megan Rapinoe has been named Sportsperson of the Year by Sports Illustrated.

Rapinoe, FIFA Player of the Year and a two-time World Cup winner, including this year’s tournament in France, was selected for dominating “the world’s game, on the world’s stage, under attack by a world leader.”

The magazine says Rapinoe, who is a lesbian, is just the fourth woman in the award’s 66-year history to win the honour unaccompanied, calling it “a remarkable athletic achievement and a reflection of entrenched gender biases.”

Her pose, arms outstretched, chin up, head tilted back slightly after scoring the World Cup winning goal against the Netherlands, represents one of the signature sports images of 2019.

Rapinoe has been an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump, who responded with critical tweets when she said she would not visit the White House if the U.S. women won the trophy.

“Rapinoe challenged perceptions of her, of female athletes, of all women. She led her teammates, three months before their tentpole tournament, to sue the U.S. Soccer Federation for equal pay and to declare in advance that they would not visit the White House when they won the Cup,” the magazine said.

Rapinoe also won the FIFA Golden Boot and the Golden Ball for most goals and best player, respectively, after the U.S. beat the Netherlands 2-0 in July at the World Cup in France. She also captured the Women’s Sports Foundation’s Sportswoman of the Year award.

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Messi wins record 6th Ballon d’Or, World Cup winner Rapinoe earns women’s prize

Lionel Messi won a record sixth Ballon d’Or while World Cup winner Megan Rapinoe earned the women’s prize on Monday.

A day after scoring his 614th career goal for Barcelona, Messi reclaimed the trophy he last won in 2015.

“Ten years ago I received my first Ballon d’Or, guided by my three brothers,” Messi told the audience. “Today I receive my sixth, guided by my wife and children.”

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk was second in the polling, followed by Cristiano Ronaldo, who shared the record of five Ballon d’Ors with Messi until Monday.

“It was amazing,” said van Dijk. “There are a couple of players like him (Messi) who are fantastic. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved with Liverpool and Holland. It’s going to be tough (to win the award) when these guys are around.”

Messi’s and Ronaldo’s 10-year grip on the prestigious individual award organized by France Football magazine was ended last year by Luka Modric.

But Messi was back on top of his game over the past 12 months. Messi scored 36 times last season en route to the Spanish Liga title, and was the Champions League top scorer.

The Argentine has not showed any sign of slowing down since the start of the new European season, marking his 700th game for Barcelona last week with a goal and two assists in beating Borussia Dortmund 3-1.

Van Dijk clinched the 2019 Champions League crown with the Reds after defeating Messi’s Barcelona in the semifinals 4-3 on aggregate, included a 4-0 win at Anfield in the return match.

Messi also won his sixth FIFA award in September, edging Van Dijk, who missed the chance to become the first defender to top the France Football poll since Italy’s World Cup-winning captain, Fabio Cannavaro, in 2006.

The Liverpool center back was among seven teammates nominated, along with goalkeeper Alisson Becker, defender Trent Alexander-Arnold, midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum and forwards Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.

Incredible year 

Rapinoe won the women’s Ballon d’Or for leading the United States to World Cup glory in July.

She scored six goals in the championship, earning her the Golden Boot as the top scorer and the Golden Ball as the top player.

Rapinoe was not present at the ceremony in the Theatre du Chatelet, where the show ‘An American In Paris’ is on.

“I’m so sad I can’t make it tonight. It’s absolutely incredible. Congrats to the other nominees. I can’t believe I’m the one winning in this field. It’s been an incredible year,” Rapinoe said in a recorded message.

“I want to thank my teammates and the U.S. federation.”

France Football magazine has been awarding the Ballon d’Or since 1956 and created a women’s award for the first time last year when Norway’s Ada Hegerberg won it. Hegerberg was fourth this time.

Juventus defender Matthijs De Ligt won the Kopa Trophy for the best under-21 player, and the inaugural Yashin Trophy given to the year’s best men’s goalkeeper went to Liverpool’s Alisson.

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Megan Rapinoe fuses politics, equal pay as World Cup prize-money gulf widens

A Women’s World Cup stirred by heated debates on politics, pay and technology saw the narratives fused in Sunday’s final by the undisputed and outspoken star of the tournament: Megan Rapinoe.

By opening the scoring with a penalty awarded after a video review, Rapinoe claimed a sixth goal and – thanks to her assists – finished as the top scorer of the most-watched FIFA women’s tournament.

Winning the Golden Boot provided the pink-haired player renowned for her individuality and activism with a platform for both after the 2-0 victory over the Netherlands .

The forward got to collect her scoring trophy before the main prize was handed out in Lyon.

WATCH | Americans claim back-to-back World Cup titles:

Megan Rapinoe scored the game-winner for the United States in the World Cup final to secure their fourth World Cup title in a 2-0 win over the Netherlands. 1:41

But only after the introduction of French President Emmanuel Macron and FIFA counterpart Gianni Infantino for the on-field trophy presentation was followed by boos and chants of “equal pay,” – thousands taking up Rapinoe’s campaign for more equitable prize money from the World Cup organizers and compensation from the U.S. federation.


“A little public shame never hurt anyone,” Rapinoe said with a winners’ medal around her neck. “So I am down with it.”

Not down with a visit to the White House, though, with Rapinoe’s rejection of a post-tournament visit delivered publicly in a video that emerged during the World Cup.

“Megan should WIN first before she TALKS!” President Donald Trump responded in tweet that lit up the tournament. “Finish the job!”

When the job was finished Sunday, only congratulations came from Trump — for the entire team.

“Great and exciting play,” he tweeted. “America is proud of you all!”


In the hours before the Americans won a fourth World Cup, Rapinoe found an advocate for the pursuit of greater pay equality in the French president.

“We need to go progressively toward that,” Macron said. “We should progressively converge.”


Megan Rapinoe shakes hands with French President Emmanuel Macron and FIFA president Gianni Infantino. (Srdjan Suki/EPA-EFE)

That is undermined by the prize money for the men’s World Cup in 2022 jumping to $ 440 million when the women’s teams will only split $ 60 million in 2023.

This time, it is only half that.

Victory gave the Americans $ 4 million – double the amount earned four years ago – as part of a $ 30 million prize pot but lagging the $ 38 million earned by France for lifting the men’s trophy last July in Moscow.

On the eve of the final, sitting in the same news conference position occupied by Infantino a day earlier, Rapinoe rebuked the head of soccer’s governing body for disrespecting women as the prize-money gulf widens with the winners of the men’s World Cups.

Rapinoe chose not to confront Infantino on the field.

“There was a wry smile, for sure,” she said. “He knows. He did say we’ll have a conversation or something. I said, ‘I’d love to.”‘


The Americans will take home $ 4 million – double the amount earned four years ago – as part of a $ 30 million prize pot, but lagging the $ 38 million earned by France for lifting the men’s trophy last July in Moscow. (Maja Hitij/Getty Images)

Rapinoe has something to be thankful to Infantino for: the introduction of VAR, which has had a disruptive debut in women’s soccer as referees and players have adjusted to the new technology.

“VAR wouldn’t miss the final, she had to show up somewhere,” Rapinoe said. “It has gotten a lot of stick in the tournament. There’s some inconsistencies but this is the first time all these referees have actually used it. So overall I think it’s been pretty good.”

What has been less of a success were FIFA’s efforts at attracting fans to some games.

FIFA knows it has to do more to raise attendance. The sellout crowd of 58,000 on Sunday was a rarity.

In a month when FIFA challenged the world to “Dare to Shine,” efforts were dimmed by marketing mishaps around ticket promotions that saw swathes of empty seats in stadiums.


A sellout crowd of 58,000 watched the women’s World Cup final on Sunday. Despite the success FIFA has struggled attract fans to the tournament. (Alex Grimm/Getty Images)

The choice of venue will be scrutinized more closely with FIFA now realizing going to stronger soccer cities – rather than Montpellier and Nice – could have produced fuller stadiums.

“A lot can be done to popularize our sport a bit more, like the men’s World Cup is kind of seen as a destination even for those that aren’t pure football fans,” said Sarai Bareman, FIFA’s head of women’s soccer. “We need to do a lot more to promote the game to attract that kind of fan.”

While the host for the 2026 men’s World Cup was picked last year, FIFA has yet to pick the destination for its next women’s showpiece and the decision could be delayed again.

The FIFA Council was due to make the pick in March but Infantino said Friday the bidding process might have to be re-opened after revealing plans to expand the tournament from 24 to 32 teams.


Megan Rapinoe admitted that the introduction of VAR had brought some inconsistencies, but praised the technology saying that overall it had been ‘pretty good.’ (Maja Hitij/Getty Images)

In a sign of soaring interest in the women’s game, FIFA already has nine countries interested in hosting in 2023: Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa and South Korea.

Rapinoe will be hoping players aren’t still fighting over pay by then.

“Everyone’s is kind of asking what’s next and what we want to come of all this,” she said. “It’s to stop having the conversation about equal pay, are we worth it, the investment piece. … It’s time to kind of sit down with everyone and really get to work.”

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U.S. star Megan Rapinoe not in starting lineup for semifinal vs. England

Captain Megan Rapinoe, who scored all four goals for the U.S. women’s national team in its previous two matches, was not in the starting lineup for the Women’s World Cup semifinal match against England in Lyon, France, on Tuesday.

She did not participate in the pregame warm-up and her status for the match was unknown.

A U.S. Soccer spokesperson said coach Jill Ellis would address the situation after the game but no disciplinary issues were involved.

Christen Press replaced Rapinoe at forward.

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Rapinoe scores twice as U.S. knocks out World Cup host France

Megan Rapinoe struck twice as the United States beat hosts France 2-1 in the women’s World Cup quarter-finals at the Parc des Princes on Friday to set up a last-four clash with England.

Rapinoe, who was involved in a spat with U.S. President Donald Trump during the build up to the game, opened the scoring in the fifth minute with a low-struck free-kick from the left that went in untouched through a crowd of players.

The 33-year-old Rapinoe added their second goal in the 65th minute and although France got back in the game with a Wendie Renard header in the 81st, the U.S held firm to maintain their record of never missing out on the World Cup semi-finals.

A night which showed just how far the women’s tournament has grown, with thousands of traveling American fans in a sell-out 45,000 crowd, ended in disappointment for the hosts.

Corinne Diacre’s French team played attractive, passing football but, while their style was more contemporary and esthetically pleasing, it was the killer edge of the experienced Americans that proved decisive.

“You have to give it up to the French team. They outplayed us for sure with the ball today,” said Rapinoe.

“But we were so good defensively, so strong. We hit them where it hurt, we took our chances. This team has an unreal amount of heart,” she added.

Heart and brains too.

Seeing the French defense had put just two players in the defensive wall for the early free-kick, Rapinoe accepted the invitation and her low drive flew through a crowded area and past unsighted goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi.

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U.S. soccer star Rapinoe sorry for swearing, but she’s not going to visit Trump

Megan Rapinoe said Thursday that she stands by previous comments that she would not visit the White House if the United States wins the Women’s World Cup.

“I stand by the comments that I made about not wanting to go to the White House, with the exception of the expletive,” she said. “My mom would be very upset about that.”

Rapinoe spoke at a previously scheduled news conference a day after President Donald Trump called out the U.S. women’s national team star on Twitter. Trump referenced a video that surfaced on Twitter in recent days, posting: “Megan should never disrespect our Country, the White House, or our Flag, especially since so much has been done for her & the team.”

Trump said he would invite the U.S. team “win or lose.”

Earlier in the week, Trump had also told The Hill that it wasn’t appropriate for Rapinoe to protest during the national anthem.

Rapinoe’s initial comments were made during an interview for a magazine in January in which she was asked if she was excited about the prospect of going to the White House. In a video excerpt of the interview posted Tuesday, she can be seen using a profanity when she says she’s not going. She also expressed doubts the team would be invited.

U.S. coach Jill Ellis said she didn’t feel the controversy over the comments would be a distraction for the team, which is preparing for Friday night’s quarterfinal match against France.

“I think this team has a remarkable focus. We all support Megan. She knows that. We know we have each other’s backs in there,” Ellis said. “I think for our players, there’s only one purpose, one mission, why we’re here. Comments, media, whatever, it has always been something I think we can block out pretty easily.”

Rapinoe also said she didn’t believe the comments would be divisive on the team.

“We’re very open with each other, obviously everyone knows who I am. I didn’t make the comments at a press conference here. They were made months ago, just kind of resurfacing,” she said. “I think, if anything, it just fires everybody up a little bit more.”

Solidarity with Kaepernick

Rapinoe started kneeling during the anthem in 2016 to show solidarity with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who did it before NFL games to protest social and racial injustice. But the United States Soccer Federation then adopted a policy that requires players to stand.

Now she stands, but she has been criticized for not singing and putting her hand over her heart like other players.

Rapinoe, who is gay, has also frequently spoken out about politics and has criticized the Trump administration and its policies in the past.

“Considering how much time and effort and pride we take in the platform that we have, in using it for good and for leaving the game in a better — and hopefully the world in a better place — I don’t think that I would want to go,” she said Thursday, “and I would encourage my teammates to think hard about lending that platform or having that co-opted by an administration that doesn’t feel the same way, doesn’t fight for the same things that we fight for.”

Teammate Ali Krieger tweeted in support of Rapinoe, saying that she, too, would skip a White House visit.

“I don’t support this administration nor their fight against LGBTQ+ citizens, immigrants & our most vulnerable,” Krieger posted.

Alex Morgan told Time Magazine last month that she would not visit the White House if the U.S. team was invited. “I don’t stand for a lot of things the current office stands for,” Morgan said, pointing particularly to the family separation policy at the southern border.

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