Megan Rapinoe is fast becoming one of the most recognizable faces in international women’s soccer. She understands game tactics like no other, is on-beat with important civic pulses, and is actively imagining a future worth showing up to. Megan Rapinoe is easy to love. Here’s why:
1. The team co-captain helped us win the Women’s Soccer World Cup over reigning champions from the Netherlands on Sunday by landing her penalty kick behind the shins of Dutch goalie Sari van Veenendaal. The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team only made this victory look easy—it wasn’t.
2. She stands up for equal pay. Together with all 28 members of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, Rapinoe sued U.S. Soccer in March for “institutionalized gender discrimination” that extends well beyond the players’ paychecks. The team’s players argue that they have to play more games than the men’s team, and that despite winning more of them, they receive less pay from the federation. Rapinoe described our national team as “a team that stood up for itself and fought hard for what it felt it deserved and tried to leave the game in a better place.” Amen to that.
3. Sure, the World Cup is cool—but then there’s all the other things she’s won. Rapinoe helped the USA to a SheBelieves Cup title in 2018. In the 2012 London Olympics, she scored three goals and kicked in four assists to get the United States a gold medal. She is the first player ever to score a goal olimpico (a goal scored directly off a corner kick) at the Olympic Games. She played a key role in an unbeaten run of 12 USA games without defeat (September 2017 to April 2018). Rapinoe’s scored 12 goals in 18 NWSL games for Seattle Reign in the 2017 campaign. And she currently co-captains the USWNT with Carli Lloyd and former Seattle teammate Alex Morgan. Oh, and she was short-listed for FIFA Best Player in 2018. No. Big. Deal.
4. The World Champion loves the late, great Nipsey Hussle, too. In her celebratory “Did you see we won the World Cup?” social media post, Rapinoe quotes the rapper, saying: “Ain't really trip on the credit, I just paid all of my dues / I just respected the game, now my name all in the news. / Trippin' on all of my moves, quote me on this, got a lot more to prove.” We get the feeling this isn’t the last top-level playing we’ll be seeing from the footballer.
5. Rapinoe plays on the pitch she and the rest of the Reign FC deserve. After Seattle Reign played in Memorial Stadium for nearly five years on choppy grass, in the open air, with room for just twelve thousand fans (compare that, for a moment, to the 69,000 that fit into the Sounder’s CenturyLink) the team decamped to Tacoma. And we can’t even be mad about it. Seattle Reign did well in the NWSL—currently ranking third—and Tacoma promised them the stadium they deserve: brand new, soccer-focused, albeit still a little small— just 5,000 seats.
6. She represents an important queer visibility in the world (of sports). For Pride, she collaborated with her partner Sue Bird and designer Melody Ehsani to create a hoodie acknowledging the history of Pride, which also served to empower and educate allies of LGBTQ youth of color who face disproportionate attacks every day. None of the 200 hoodies are the same but “together they unite wearers in support of intersectional young people,” said Sue Bird about the project in a social media post.
7. The midfielder does not mince words. Even before her team’s victory on Sunday, Rapinoe was not confused about whether she’d like to visit the White House, should they take the Cup. “I’m not going to the fucking White House,” the soccer player now famously said. Not backing down—even after a rebuttal on Twitter from Donald Trump—Rapinoe admits she thinks of herself as “deeply American,” which is why she loves this country and believes it can always strive to be better, policies the Trump administration has proposed to discriminate against LGBTQ communities and others included.
8. Rapinoe has spent the last three years kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial inequity and police brutality, an action in support of other athletes like football player Colin Kaepernick. The U.S. Soccer Federation subsequently implemented a rule demanding all players stand during the anthem. That's why Rapinoe hasn’t knelt but instead opted to refrain from singing along or putting her hand over her heart during the anthem.
9. We love who she loves: Seattle Storm baller Sue Bird, who penned a heartfelt tribute to her partner in The Player’s Tribune in the run-up to the World Cup’s Semifinals with a pretty awesome title, “So The President F*cking Hates My Girlfriend.”
10. Outside of the realm of soccer, Rapinoe is making her mark as a creative. She's a founder of Re:inc, a brand she started with players from the national team. The brand's focus: equity, creativity, progress, and art. Their very first iteration is an off-white tee with the words “Liberté, Egalité, Défendez” printed on the front—a clear play on the infamous words of the French Revolution. (And can’t we all agree “fraternité” doesn’t seem to quite cut it anymore?)