According to retired U.S. winger Megan Rapinoe, the ongoing fight for equality among female footballers means that they are essentially “engaged in dual matches simultaneously.”
Her international playing days concluded with an unexpected elimination in the last-16 round of the Women’s World Cup, a moment she feels some had been eagerly “anticipating.”
Rapinoe did not mince words as she lambasted the “misogyny and sexism” exhibited by Luis Rubiales, the president of the Spanish football federation (RFEF), during Spain’s victory celebration in the final.
Rapinoe reflected, “It prompted me to consider what we are expected to tolerate.”
The 1-0 triumph of Spain over England in Sydney was marred by an incident where Rubiales planted a kiss on forward Jenni Hermoso’s lips during the awards ceremony.
Earlier, Rubiales had made an obscene gesture while celebrating the win at the final whistle in the VIP area of Stadium Australia, close to Spain’s Queen Letizia and her teenage daughter.
Last year, Spain’s coach Jorge Vilda managed to weather a mutiny by the players, after the RFEF announced that 15 players had sent identical emails threatening to quit if major concerns about their “emotional state” and “well-being” were not addressed.
Regardless, the RFEF remained supportive of Vilda, triumphantly posting ‘VILDA IN’ on Spain’s official X account following their World Cup success.
Rapinoe, who has twice won the Women’s World Cup, told American magazine the Atlantic, “Reflect on the burden the Spanish team had to shoulder: some players who stood firm a year ago aren’t even on the team now. Maybe that united them, but it shouldn’t be necessary.”
Rapinoe also commented on a photo that showed a “profound level of misogyny and sexism” in Rubiales at the final whistle, and asked, “What sort of inverted reality are we living in? On the grandest platform, where celebration should be the focus, Jenni is forced to endure physical assault by this man.”
Rubiales expressed regret on Monday for his actions, but Spain’s political leaders, including Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, have stated that mere apologies are insufficient. There have been calls for his resignation.
Meanwhile, Rapinoe has announced her retirement, with her club season ending in November.
She and the U.S. squad previously pursued a discrimination lawsuit over equal pay and working conditions, which was settled in February 2022 with a pledge from US Soccer to ensure equal pay.
Players in other countries have also raised concerns over gender disparities in bonuses and prize money.
A 2019 Women’s Ballon d’Or recipient, Rapinoe further stated, “I have long understood that we’re competing in two different arenas. We’re fighting against each other on one hand, and on the other, united in our fight for equality, justice, and what’s right.”
This fight extends beyond football, with Rapinoe citing examples like Beyonce, Taylor Swift, and Coco Gauff, who are also pushing for equality in their respective fields.
Rapinoe’s international career ended with a penalty shootout loss to Sweden in her 202nd appearance. Former U.S. President Donald Trump was among the critics, leading Rapinoe to reflect on the fine line women must walk between demanding what they deserve and achieving success.
The U.S. and Sweden ended with a scoreless draw in Melbourne before the shootout went into sudden death. Rapinoe missed her penalty, but she remained defiant, saying, “I would pick me again.”
Rapinoe’s belief in taking risks and standing up in key moments led her to dismiss criticism as “fake and insincere.” She concluded, “You’re going to attack me for going out there and giving it my all?”
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Megan Rapinoe
What did Megan Rapinoe criticize the Spanish football federation president for?
Megan Rapinoe criticized Luis Rubiales, the president of the Spanish football federation, for his actions during Spain’s World Cup victory celebration. She specifically condemned the “misogyny and sexism” he displayed, citing instances such as kissing forward Jenni Hermoso and making an obscene gesture in the VIP area.
Who called for the resignation of Luis Rubiales, and why?
Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and second deputy prime minister Yolanda Diaz, among others, called for the resignation of Luis Rubiales. The calls were in response to his inappropriate behavior during the Women’s World Cup celebrations, and it was felt that his apologies were not enough.
What is Megan Rapinoe’s perspective on the fight for gender equality in sports?
Megan Rapinoe sees the fight for gender equality as a dual struggle, where female athletes are playing against each other while also collectively working to achieve equality and progress. She emphasizes the need for equal pay, proper resources, and a stand against misogyny, racism, and sexism, even if it impacts their own dominance in the sport.
What did the Spanish players threaten to do last year, and why?
Last year, 15 Spanish players threatened not to play for coach Jorge Vilda unless “significant” concerns over their “emotional state” and “health” were addressed. Despite this, the Spanish football federation continued to back Vilda, and the issue was resolved.
How did Rapinoe’s international career end, and how did she react to criticism afterward?
Rapinoe’s international career ended with a penalty shootout defeat by Sweden in her 202nd appearance for the U.S. Following the exit, she faced criticism, including from former President Donald Trump. Rapinoe remained defiant, dismissing the criticism as “fake and insincere” and expressing her willingness to take risks and stand up in key moments.