Accepting the prestigious female player of the year award at a FIFA ceremony, Rapinoe urged other footballers to help achieve change and use their platforms to help lift other people up.
Notably, she wants to hear more outrage about racism, homophobia and equal pay from her fellow footballers.
“That’s my ask of everybody. We have such incredible opportunity, being professional football players … we have so much success … we have incredible platforms,” she said.
“I ask everybody here to lend your platform, to lift people up, to use this beautiful game to change the world for better.”
She said the stories that have most inspired her include player Raheem Sterling and Kalidou Koulibaly, for their incredible on-field performances, as well as for speaking out about racism. And she paid tribute to ‘Blue Girl’, the Iranian school student who was arrested while dressing as a man and trying to gain entry to the Azadi Stadium to watch a game of football. She later died from burns to 90 per cent of her body, after setting herself a light when she learned she could face a jail term.
“If we really want to have meaningful change, what I think is most inspiring would be if everybody other than Sterling and Koulibaly, if they 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 the lack of equal pay and investment in the women’s game other than just women, that would be the most inspiring thing to me,” Rapinoe said.
Since leading the US to victory at the World Cup earlier this year, Rapinoe has become well known internationally for speaking out about equal pay and the Trump presidency.
Her comments to CNN’s Anderson Cooper went viral when she was asked about her direct message to Trump. “Your message is excluding people,” she told the network back in July. “You’re excluding me, you’re excluding people that look like me, you’re excluding people of colour, you’re excluding Americans that maybe support you.”