Megan Rapinoe has won the award for FIFA’s best female player of the year. She was among a short list of three players along with Alex Morgan and Lucy Bronze, with the three of them coming from an initial list of 12 nominees. Morgan and Rapinoe made the cut, but fellow Americans Julie Ertz and Rose Lavelle were left out, although they did make the FIFA Best XI.
Rapinoe of course won both the Golden Boot and Golden Ball in France and given the weight that voters place on major tournaments, her winning wasn’t much of a surprise. Nor was it a surprise that she took the opportunity to bring up larger issues that intersect with soccer. The full text of her speech is below:
“I’m a little bit at a loss for words, if you can believe it. That rarely ever happens to me. First and foremost I want to thank my family. My twin sister is here with me today. All my friends and family back in Redding, back home. My lovely girlfriend who’s not able to be here. Thank you guys so much for all of the support that you’ve given me over all of these years and especially throughout this past year. All of the coaches that I’ve had throughout my whole life, but particularly this year and the last couple of years. Our coaching staff with Jill Ellis and the rest of them have put us all in a tremendous position to be as successful as we have been. All of my teammates that put up with all my shit all the time and let me be a little bit wild at times but reel me in when I need that a well, thank you to all fo them currently and all of them that I’ve played with in the past.
As Gianni [Infantino] was saying, this was an incredible year for women’s football. For those of you who are just noticing that now, it’s okay, you’re a little late to the party but we’ll forgive you. We’re just getting started. It truly was incredible. The French Football Federation and FIFA put on an absolutely tremendous World Cup. To be a part of it is just indescribable. The crowds that we had and the enthusiasm, the quality on the field, was just amazing.
I told [Gianni], he stole a little bit of thunder talking about all the issues, he took a little page out of my playbook. But I was gonna say some of the stories that have inspired me most this year: Raheem Sterling and [Kalidou] Koulibaly, they’re incredible performances on the field, but the way that they’ve taken on the disgusting racism that they have to face [not only] this year, but probably for their whole lives. The young Iranian woman who eventually set herself on fire because she wasn’t able to go to the game. The one out MLS player, Mr. [Collin] Martin, and the countless other female out LGBTQ players who fight so hard every day to a, just play the sport that they love, but b, also to fight the rampant homophobia that we have. Those are all the stories that inspire me so much, but they also admittedly make me a little bit sad and a little bit disappointed.
I feel like if we really want to have meaningful change, what I think is most inspiring would be if everybody over than Raheem Sterling, Koulibaly, if they were as outraged about racism as they were. If everybody else was that. 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. I feel like that’s my ask of everybody. We have such an incredible opportunity being professional football players. We have so much success - financial and otherwise - we have incredible platforms. I ask everyone here, because I think everyone in this room probably has that crown that they’re bearing, lend your platform to other people. Lift other people up. Share your success. 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 better. So that’s my charge to everyone. I hope you take that to heart and just do something. Do anything. We have incredible power in this room. Thank you so much. It is an absolute honor.”
You can look at the total voting breakdown for best female player here.