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Megan Rapinoe Challenges Male Counterparts to Make Soccer Better

The athlete and activist says male players aren't doing enough to fix the problems in the game and the world.

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Megan Rapinoe has had quite the year. On the pitch, she led the U.S. to a Women’s World Cup championship. Off the pitch, she spoke out in support of Colin Kaepernick and equal pay for women, including her teammates.

There was no way that Rapinoe, who won both the Golden Boot (best scorer) and Golden Ball (best overall player) awards at the World Cup wasn’t going to win the Ballon d’Or for best player in the world. And there was no way that she wouldn’t immediately use that platform for activism.

In an interview with France Football shortly after accepting the award, Rapinoe challenged her colleagues to use their platforms in a positive way.

“I want to shout: ‘Cristiano, Lionel, Zlatan, help me!'” she said, according to an ESPN translation. “These big stars do not engage in anything when there are so many problems in men’s football.

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“Do they fear losing everything? They believe that, but it is not true. Who will erase Messi or Ronaldo from world football history for a statement against racism or sexism?”

Rapinoe was asked if she believed she received her award for her play or her political actions. Her response: yes.

“This Ballon d’Or rewards both,” she replied. “On the one hand, I am a good player. On the other, my activity away from the pitch brings me support as people understand I am acting to find solutions to our society’s problems. The idea is to empower others to speak louder.”

Rapinoe has gained a huge platform thanks to her transcendent play and drawn attention to issues she’s passionate about. She understands that male players are better positioned to improve a men’s game they’re a part of, one that struggles with racism around the world.

Rapinoe’s explicit call on three of the best male soccer players (and most famous people) in the world can easily be seen as a continuation of her activism and an effort to amplify her voice exponentially. Here’s hoping they’re listening.