Megan Rapinoe speaks out on racism, sexism, homophobia in football

Citing the examples of Raheem Sterling and Kalidou Koulibaly, Megan Rapinoe challenged footballers to "change this world forever".

Megan Rapinoe became the fourth American to be awarded The Best FIFA Women's Player.   -  Getty Images

Megan Rapinoe called on her fellow professional footballers to make the most of a "unique" opportunity to "change this world forever" during her acceptance speech at The Best FIFA Awards.

After collecting the women's individual honour at the ceremony in Milan on Monday, Rapinoe used the platform to speak out about some of the notable issues in the modern game.

The United States international declared how she had been inspired by Raheem Sterling and Kalidou Koulibaly after the pair stood up to incidents of racism, as well as referencing other events that have highlighted the homophobia and inequalities that still exist within football.

Rapinoe finished by calling on those in attendance, as well as those watching on, to capitalise on the platform provided by the sport to make a difference for the future.

"Some of the stories that have inspired me the most this year: Raheem Sterling and Koulibaly, their incredible performances on the field but the way that they have taken on the disgusting racism that they have had to face this year, but probably throughout their whole lives," the 34-year-old said.

"The young Iranian woman who eventually set herself on fire because she was not able to go to the game, the one 'out' MLS player and the countless other 'out' LGBTQ female players who fight so hard not just to play the sport that they love but also to fight the rampant homophobia that we have.

"Those were all the stories that inspired me so much, but they also made me a little bit sad and a bit disappointed.

"I feel like that if we really want to have meaningful change, what I think is most inspiring is if everyone other than Raheem Sterling and Koulibaly, if they were so outraged about racism as they were.

"If everybody else was that outraged as the LGBTQ players, if everybody was outraged by the equal pay, or lack there of, or the lack of investment in the women's game, that would be the most inspiring thing to me.

"We have such an incredible opportunity being professional football players, so much success – financial and otherwise – we have incredible platforms. I ask everyone here to lend your platform to other people, lift them up and share your success.

"We have a unique opportunity in football, different to any other sport in the world, to use this beautiful game to change this world forever.

"I hope you take that to heart, do something, anything. We have incredible power in this room."

Rapinoe secured The Best award for the first time in her career, edging out fellow nominees Alex Morgan and Lucy Bronze after winning the Golden Boot and Golden Ball at the Women's World Cup in France.

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