Lesbian dreamboat and superstar athlete Megan Rapinoe took to the stage in Milan to accept the award for Best Women’s Player at the 2019 The Best FIFA Football Awards on Monday night.
The award recognized her accomplishments at this past summer’s World Cup, where she scored six goals and helped lead the U.S. team to a win. Holding the Golden Ball proudly, Rapinoe thanked her teammates and coaches, her twin sister, and “[her] lovely girlfriend who’s not able to be here.”
Rapinoe pointed out that while the World Cup win was a groundbreaking moment for women’s soccer, bigger things are on the horizon. “This was an incredible year… for those of you who are just noticing that now, it’s OK,” she said. “You’re a little late to the party but I forgive you, we’re just getting started!”
The MVP also used the awards stage to pay tribute to athletes who have inspired her by fighting for LGBTQ+ and racial equality in sporting leagues across the world. She specifically thanked Raheem Sterling and Kalidou Koulibaly, two Black European players for “the way that they’ve taken on the disgusting racism they’ve had to take on this year, but also probably for their whole lives.”
Rapinoe also said she was inspired by Collin Martin, the only openly gay player in men’s Major League Soccer, as well as “the countless other female out LGBTQ+ players who fight so hard every day to a) just play the sport they love, but b) also fight the rampant homophobia we have.”
The queer icon admitted that stories about the continued adversity LGBTQ+ athletes and athletes of color face make her a little sad and disappointed.
“I feel like if we really want to have meaningful change, what I think [would be] most inspiring is if everyone other than Raheem Sterling and Koulibaly were as outraged about racism as they are.” she continued. “If everybody was as outraged about homophobia as the LGBTQ+ players, if everyone was as outraged about equal pay or lack thereof, other than just women, that would be most inspiring to me.”
Rapinoe then issued a call to action, especially to all the professional athletes in the crowd. “We have such an incredible opportunity,” she told them, “[...] I ask everyone here: Lend your platform to other people, lift other people up, [and] share your success.”
However, the athlete ended on an upbeat note, pointing to how much power the people in that room can wield. “We have a unique opportunity in football to use this beautiful game to actually change the world for better,” Rapinoe said. “I hope you take that to heart and just do something, do anything.”
Rapinoe continues to show why she’s adored by fans across the globe — not only for her unparallelled play on the field, but also for her unrelenting courage in speaking out and fighting for what’s right. Earlier this year when asked if she was going to meet President Trump after the World Cup win, Rapinoe famously said “I’m not going to the fucking White House.” She’s always been outspoken on important issues and this is another great example of that.