US Soccer Star Megan Rapinoe Biography, Family, Football Career, Activism, Books, Relationship, Sponsorships

Megan Rapinoe is a significant member of the United States Women’s National Team, having helped the team win two World Cup titles in 2015 and 2019, as well as an Olympic gold medal in 2012. Her strong performance in the 2019 World Cup earned her the Golden Boot for most goals scored as well as the Golden Ball for being the tournament’s best player. She was also selected FIFA’s Women’s World Player of the Year that year. Rapinoe is also a vocal campaigner. She was one of the first soccer players to publicly declare her s-x-ual orientation and has advocated for LG*** rights, racial justice, and equal pay. Rapinoe announced her retirement from competitive soccer at the end of this year’s season in July 2023.

Early Life, Family, and Soccer Start

Megan Anna Rapinoe was born 11 minutes after her fraternal twin sister on July 5, 1985, in Redding, California. Rapinoe grew up in the conservative northern California town of Redding. Denise, her mother, works as a waitress. Jim, her father, was a contractor.

Rapinoe was the youngest of six children. Rapinoe and her twin sister Rachael began playing soccer at the age of five, following in the footsteps of their older brother Brian. Both turned out to be talented players. They first joined a guys soccer team because there were no girls teams where they resided.

Rapinoe went to Foothill High School, where she ran track and basketball as well as soccer. Rapinoe hoped throughout high school that her soccer skills would get her a college scholarship, which she eventually received from the University of Portland. She also played for the United States Soccer Under-17 youth squad and postponed her college enrollment to join the Under-19 team.

Rapinoe began her career at the University of Portland in January 2005, when she helped the women’s soccer team win the NCAA Division I Championship that year. She was a member of the United States women’s national team in 2006. She also stayed a member of the University of Portland squad, despite ACL injuries to her left knee in 2006 and 2007.

Rachael excelled in soccer throughout college, albeit she did not compete at the highest level with Megan. They are still close. Rapinoe has also maintained a close relationship with his brother Brian, who was imprisoned when he was 15 for bringing methamphetamine to high school and has been in and out of jail multiple times while battling drug addiction. Following the 2019 World Cup final, the soccer star even sent him a birthday shoutout.

National and International Soccer Career

Rapinoe is a forward who is recognized for striking a particular celebrating position when he is successful on the field—widespread arms, head thrown back, and a triumphant grin. She returned to the United States women’s national team in 2009. She competed in her first World Cup in 2011. During one game, she stunned the globe by throwing the ball on a stunning cross-field journey to teammate Abby Wambach, who subsequently scored and tied the game just before the clock expired. Rapinoe was present when the United States women won gold at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, despite the fact that they lost the World Cup final in 2011.

Rapinoe was signed by several soccer clubs in addition to his time with the national squad. She joined the Chicago Red Stars in 2009, after previously playing for the Philadelphia Independence, Florida’s magicJack, and Sydney FC in Australia. In 2013, she played for Olympique Lyonnais in France. Rapinoe returned to the National Women’s Soccer League in 2014, joining the OL Reign in Seattle.

Rapinoe and the United States women’s team won the World Cup in 2015. She tore her ACL in her right knee that December, but she still made the Olympic team in 2016. However, the United States women did not medal in those Games.

Rapinoe was selected co-captain of the United States women’s national team for the 2019 World Cup. During the event, she made headlines after a video was released months earlier in which she stated that even if the team won and received an invitation, “I’m not going to the f–ing White House.” Then-President Donald Trump responded with Twitter jabs, but the resulting pressure had no effect on Rapinoe’s game. She scored two goals in the following quarterfinal encounter, propelling her team to World Cup triumph. Rapinoe thereafter kept her word and avoided the White House.

At the conclusion of the 2019 World Cup, she was awarded the Golden Boot for scoring the most goals and the Golden Ball for being the best player during the tournament. She was also selected FIFA’s Women’s World Player of the Year that year.

The Olympic Games in 2020 have been postponed for a year owing of the COVID-19 epidemic. Rapinoe was a member of the Olympic team when the Summer Games were ultimately held in Japan in 2021. She scored twice in the third-place match, as the United States finished with a bronze medal.

Final World Cup and Retirement

Rapinoe was not named to the United States national team for the 2022 SheBelieves Cup, a four-team international event. With its success at the CONCACAF Championship, the team qualified for the FIFA Women’s World Cup the following year.

Rapinoe was named to the United States’ 23-player roster for the World Cup, which will be held by New Zealand and Australia commencing in July 2023, by head coach Vlatko Andonovski in late June 2023. “She will play different types of minutes [than in previous World Cups], but her leadership role is critical, and her performance on the field is extremely valuable to us,” Andonovski said.

Rapinoe revealed on July 8 that she would retire from competitive soccer at the end of the 2023 season, making the World Cup her final with the national team. “I could never have imagined the ways in which soccer would shape & change my life forever,” she stated in a tweet announcing her decision.

Fight for Equal Pay

Male soccer players in the United States frequently earned more money than female players, despite the fact that the women’s national team has been more successful. Rapinoe and others have fought for equitable compensation as a result. In 2016, she and four other teammates filed a federal salary discrimination complaint against US Soccer.

Rapinoe was one of 28 players who filed a pay discrimination case against the US Soccer Federation in March 2019 after the labor complaint was postponed. A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit in May 2020. In December 2020, an agreement was struck between US Soccer and the women’s squad to improve and equalize working conditions.

Rapinoe paid a visit to President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden at the White House in March 2021 to mark Equal Pay Day. “You see, despite all the wins,” she said during the occasion, “I’m still paid less than men who do the same job that I do.”

Rapinoe and teammate Alex Morgan were among the five players that struck a $24 million settlement with the US Soccer Federation in February 2022 as a result of their 2016 lawsuit. U.S. Soccer promised to pay male and female players equally in all future friendlies and events, including the World Cup, under the conditions of the agreement. “For us, this is just a huge win in ensuring that we not only right the wrongs of the past, but also set the next generation up for something we only dreamed of,” Rapinoe told TODAY.

Other Activism: Racial Justice

Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers began kneeling during the national anthem before NFL games in August 2016 to protest racial inequality. Rapinoe made the same move a week after Kaepernick’s first protest, becoming the first well-known white player to kneel during a game.”I have chosen to kneel because I simply cannot stand for the kind of oppression this country allows against its own people,” she explained. “As a g-ay American, I know what it’s like to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties,” she added.

Rapinoe’s conduct drew criticism, and while her national contract was not terminated, she was removed from the squad roster. She didn’t play again until April 2017, when U.S. Soccer implemented a rule requiring all players to stand for the national anthem. She followed the order, but she didn’t sing while it was in place. (It is set to be repealed in June 2020.) Rapinoe’s career has since flourished, although Kaepernick hasn’t played for the NFL since 2017.

Rapinoe’s family members were perplexed by her decision to kneel during the national anthem. Rapinoe and her twin, who is also lesbian, were estranged by her father’s vote for Trump in 2016, though they bonded at a family meeting.

Rapinoe has spoken out about the need to change how the law treats addicts, drawing on her experience with her elder brother. She endorsed Elizabeth Warren for president, held an Instagram Live session with U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to discuss the CARES Act’s impact, and backed Democratic candidates in Georgia’s Senate runoff elections in 2021.

Presidential Medal of Freedom

Joe Biden awarded Rapinoe the Presidential Medal of Freedom in July 2022 in recognition of her contribution to the success of the United States team and her commitment to equal pay and other issues. She was only the sixth female athlete or coach in any sport to receive the award, and she was the first soccer player to do so. Olympic gymnast Simone Biles and actor Denzel Washington were among the other honorees that year. “Beyond the World Cup and Olympic medals, Megan is a champion for the essential American truth that everyone, everyone, is entitled to be treated with dignity and respect,” Biden said.

Relationship with Sue Bird

Rapinoe’s ex-girlfriends include Australian footballer Sarah Walsh and vocalist Sera Cahoone. She and Cahoone were engaged, but Rapinoe called it quits. She then started connected with WNBA star Sue Bird, whom she met at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Bird stood behind Rapinoe when she was dropped off the team roster due to her decision to kneel during the national anthem. Rapinoe also credits Bird with assisting her in sticking to a diet and fitness plan that helped her get in better shape at the time: “I really did transform.” I owe her so much in terms of my career.”

In 2018, the couple moved in together. Rapinoe joined Bird in the WNBA bubble in Florida in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic so the two would not have to be separated. Rapinoe and Bird are getting married in October 2020.

Rapinoe and Bird formed their own production company, A Touch More, in December 2022, with projects focusing on people who shape and carry culture forward. Bird announced her retirement from the WNBA earlier this year.

Historic Media Appearances, Book, and More

Rapinoe and Bird were the first openly homosexual pair to feature on the cover of ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue in 2018. Rapinoe was the first out lesbian to appear in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue in 2019. That same year, she was named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year.

Rapinoe appeared in the 2021 documentary LFG, which chronicled the campaign for equal pay for female soccer players. Seeing America With Megan Rapinoe, a one-hour HBO special, will air in August 2020. Rapinoe also hosted the ESPYs in 2020 and participated in the revamp of The L Word.

Rapinoe released her memoir, One Life, in November 2020, and it quickly became a New York Times best-seller. Soon after, Sony Picture Studios announced plans to adapt the memoir into a scripted television series.

Sponsorships and Lifestyle Brand

Nike, Samsung, and Vitamin Water have all supported Rapinoe. Schmidt’s deodorant and Victoria’s Secret are among her endorsements. Rapinoe SC is a sports clinic organization, and Rapinoe co-founded the re-inc lifestyle brand.

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