Megan Rapinoe grabs megaphone to call out FIFA and give nod and nudge to U.S. Soccer

Unless she is named the Player of the Game for Sunday's Women’s World Cup final between the USA and the Netherlands -- in which case she'll get the first three questions -- Megan Rapinoe held her last press conference with the media on Saturday at Lyon's Groupama Stadium.

Other players might have had better World Cups -- none greater than Michelle Akers-Stahl in 1991 -- but no one has ever grabbed the megaphone and held on like Rapinoe.

With the possible exception of Billy Jean King, 42 years her senior, no one has spoken more eloquently or passionately -- and one might add humbly -- than Rapinoe has about women's sports over the last month in France.

“Maybe you don’t agree with every single way that I do it or [what] gets discussed,” she said on Saturday. “I know I am not perfect.”

Saturday was supposed to be a preview of USA-Netherlands, but with U.S. coach Jill Ellis at her side, Rapinoe talked big picture -- about FIFA and U.S. Soccer, offering a nod to the latter for its unparalleled support of women's soccer.

In response to FIFA president Gianni Infantino's proposal to double the prize money for the 2023 Women's World Cup -- an increase still less than the prize money will go up for men's teams at Qatar 2022 -- Rapinoe said the prize money should be doubled now and again in four years so the pay gap doesn't continue to grow.

“If you truly care about the game, are you letting the gap grow?” she asked. “I’m not saying the prize money is $450 million this time or the next time around. I understand for a number of different reasons the men’s game financially is far advanced from the women’s game. But if you really care, are you letting the gap grow? We should double it now and use that number to double it for the next time.”

Rapinoe said the scary part about scheduling three finals on the same day -- the Women's World Cup followed by the Copa America and Gold Cup -- was that no one seemed to have thought about it.

“This is the World Cup final,” Rapinoe said. “Cancel everything [that] day. I don’t know how that happened. I think I heard somewhere that they didn’t think about it, which is the problem. You didn’t think about it? The World Cup final is set so far in advance. It’s actually unbelievable.”

She said FIFA must not take its foot off the pedal in terms of pushing federations to advance the women's game.

“You need attention and detail ... in the women’s game every single day,” Rapinoe said. “I understand it is a very complex problem to be a part of it, but the resources are there. The willingness and the brain power is all there. People wanting to work in the women’s game and make it as good as we can is all there. It’s just a matter of wanting to do it and making it happen. I mean, we’re making a World Cup in Qatar happen.”

Rapinoe says FIFA must bet on the future of women's soccer. “Money, money, money, money," she says is what it takes. (Infantino has proposed doubling FIFA's investment in women's soccer to $1 billion over the next four years.)

"Money from FIFA, money from federations," she added. "Money from advertisers, sponsors, rights-holders, TV. All of that. And obviously not just blindly throwing cash at things, but investing in infrastructure, in training programs and academies for women, in coaching for women. All of it. I don’t think you get to the point of having an incredible business by running it on a budget that’s a dollar more than it was last year. You have to make up-front investments and really bet on the future.”

Rapinoe was one of five U.S. women's national team players who filed a complaint against U.S. Soccer before the EEOC in 2016. That case has been expanded to include 28 women's players and moved to federal court as a gender discrimination lawsuit. Nonetheless, she acknowledged that her federation has outpaced any other federation in terms of the resources it has thrown at its women's national team.

“We don’t often give them kudos," she said, "but that’s definitely one that I’m willing to give. They back the team in a very strong way and have pushed the game, not only in our country but around the world, to a level that without us, we wouldn’t be here in the world game. So I think that they do deserve a tremendous amount of credit for that, and we’ll continue to nudge them forward.”

5 comments about "Megan Rapinoe grabs megaphone to call out FIFA and give nod and nudge to U.S. Soccer".
  1. schultz rockne, July 7, 2019 at 8:30 p.m.

    Megan Rapinoe: a footballing legend. And a great Usonian.

  2. Johan Aarnio replied, July 8, 2019 at 9:40 a.m.

    This is a sport, not politics and she is representing all of us. She lost me when she does not show respect for the national anthem. It is also well accepted to celebrate goals but taunting opponents and their cultures shows a lack of class.

  3. Bob Ashpole replied, July 8, 2019 at 4:47 p.m.

    Johan, up until the last couple games almost nobody on the MNT sang the national anthem and saluted. Then the backlash against the Trump's supporters' hypocracy resulted in the men singing and saluting. 

    Personally I consider exercising the right to Free Speech as paying respect to the Constitution and American traditions. Criticizing Congress and the President is a cherished traditional American passtime. 

  4. John Hofmann, July 8, 2019 at 1:13 p.m.

    This is not the first time I've suggested this, but I think it is really ironic or...for people to continue bring up what they feel are 'lack or respect' moments to the national flag and national anthem, by people who are trying to express concerns but are doing it in way that, come on, are not terrible moments.  And then, as an entire nation, the same people who are complaining, over and over again about such lacks of respect, simply because they do not agree with political sliant, say nothing as the entire national anthem process slides into just another part of the 'entertainment process' before an event.  Modern entetainers are not routinely modifying the anthem, through all sorts of "bells and whistles" that have never been there previously, reflecting current entertainment standards, not the standards of respect that singing (and listening) to the national anthem should command.

    It is embarassing to listen to so many Americans babble about modest lack of respect moments (good gravy, someone kneels quietly?) and then ignores the ever increasing modifications to the anthem by all sorts of entertainment hacks, problems with respect by the crowds (continuing talking, inappropirate cheering because a singer hits a high note, etc).  It seems amazing that people can become incensed overe one thing and then completely ignore other actions...except that this seems to be the national process now - become complelely incensed over someone else's actions while completely ignoring the bad manners and bad behavior people around you, because they're part of your group.

  5. Nelson Reese, July 9, 2019 at 12:17 a.m.

    Megan Rapinoe may have lost you Johan Arnio, when she chose to kneel for the National Anthem to show support for the effort athletes are takeing to draw attention to the issue of police brutality directed at minority populations in the United States. A movement started by Colin Kaepernick after he consulted his friends in the armed services to come up with a humble and respectful gesture he could utilize during the anthem to bring much needed attention to this serious problem in our great country. They recomended kneeling to him as that is a stance that has always been and will always be one illustrating humility and reverence, as is standing with one's hands politely by one's back as Rapinoe has done since the USSF made the rule that all National Team players must stand when representing the USA in competition. I admire and respect her as an outstanding football player and a loud voice bringing much needed attention to the serious problems of inequlity towards significant populations in our country based on race, gender and sexual orientation. To me she is a hero, to be respected, admired and followed. She reminds me of how proud I am to be an American! A fact that became harder to remember after my travels this summer in Ireland, England and France only days after our president was in those places and he illustrated how little he understands their issues and culture or respects the soldgers who died in wars we have all fought together in to provide the freedoms we all share together. I was asked over and over about how this insufferable man could be the President of the United States.  I am as embarased of his behavior there and at home as they were offended, appauled and perplexed by his statements.  Knowing there are people like Megan Rapinoe fighting for what is right for everyone in our country gives me hope.    

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