Megan Rapinoe stole the show at the 2019 The Best FIFA Football Awards. Rapinoe was named Best Women’s Player in the World, and her acceptance speech highlighted the homophobia, racism, and inequalities that still exist in the soccer world.
As she collected her award, Rapinoe drew attention to two soccer players: Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling and Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly. She said she’s inspired by both their performances as soccer players and their reaction to the “disgusting racism” they must face. But they shouldn’t be the only ones who have to care about racism, Rapinoe said.
“I feel like if we really want to have meaningful change, what I think is most inspiring would be if everybody other than Sterling and Koulibaly were as outraged about racism as they were,” she said.
She went on to pay tribute to Collin Martin, the only openly gay Major League Soccer player, and “the countless other female out LGBTQ players who fight so hard everyday to a) just play the sport that they love, but b) also, despite the rampant homophobia that we have.”
“If everybody was as outraged about homophobia as the LGBTQ players, if everybody was as outraged about equal pay or the lack thereof, or the lack of investment in the women’s game, other than just women, that would be the most inspiring thing to me,” Rapinoe said.
Rapinoe concluded by asking the other soccer players in the audience to use their platform for good.
“We have a unique opportunity in football different to any other sport in the world: to use this beautiful game to actually change the world for the better,” she said. “I hope you take that to heart and just do something. Do anything. We have incredible power in this room.”