Who is Megan Rapinoe, the US football star who has triggered Donald Trump

This is not the first time Megan Rapinoe - an unflinchingly outspoken soccer star and an LGBTQ rights ambassador - has ruffled a few feathers.

US football star Megan Rapinoe, with pink hair and an unflinchingly outspoken persona, is as unavoidable off the field as she's on it.   -  Getty Images

"I'm not going to the f****** White House," said one of the co-captains of the USA women's national team, Megan Rapinoe, after being asked by football magazine Eight by Eight  if a visit to the White House was on the cards should USA retain its title.

This was before the President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, went on a Twitter rant challenging Rapinoe to "WIN first before she TALKS".

The winger, with an unflinchingly outspoken persona, has been in the news before her recent comment that is polarising opinion in America. As an advocate for equality (social and gender), this is not the first time she has done that either.

READ | Megan Rapinoe: 'I'm not going to the f****** White House'

 

On one knee

In 2016, she became the first white athlete to show solidarity with former NFL star Colin Kaepernick who knelt during the American national anthem, in protest against racial inequality and police brutality. Rapinoe knelt during a National Women's Soccer League game as the 'Star Spangled Banner' was being played before the match.

She stopped kneeling after the United States Soccer Federation passed a rule requiring team members to stand for the anthem, but the 33-year-old from Redding, California has been protesting in her own way at the Women's World Cup.

She stands in silence while other members of the national team place their hands over their hearts and sing the anthem. In an interview to Yahoo Sports earlier this year, she called herself a "walking protest" against the Donald Trump administration.

Earlier this week, Trump said it was inappropriate for Rapinoe to protest during the anthem.

Equal pay

Rapinoe is among the 28 players of the US women's national team suing the national federation for equal pay and working conditions to their less successful male counterparts. As a vocal advocate of women's football, she has criticised FIFA for not doing enough to level the pitch for women soccer players.

READ | Women's football: USA agrees to mediation in pay discrimination lawsuit

Megan Rapinoe celebrates after scoring a second penalty during the Women's World Cup quarterfinal between USA and Spain.   -  Getty Images

Soccer Veteran

The Reign FC player is as unavoidable on the field as she's off it. As a winger and a wide forward, she is almost always among the goals. With 47 goals from 156 appearances, she has been a vital part of the national team. She scored three goals and recorded four assists as she led the USA to an Olympic gold medal in 2012. She was also part of the World Cup winning squad in 2015.

Fun fact: Megan Rapinoe is the first player to score from a corner (or score a 'Goal Olimpico') in the Olympics.

 

Her cross to set up Abby Wambach during the 2011 Women's World Cup quarterfinal against Brazil is still talked about among soccer fans. The 122nd-minute equaliser took the game into penalties and USA won. It also set a record for the latest goal scored in a match.

Earlier this week, she scored two goals against Spain that helped USA set up a quarterfinal clash against France in the Women's World Cup.

READ | Women’s World Cup: USA-France ticket prices jump to more than $10K

Rapinoe came out as gay in an interview with Out magazine in 2012. She's in a relationship with WNBA player Sue Bird and in 2018, they became the first same-sex couple to appear on the cover of ESPN magazine's Body issue. Rapinoe has been an ambassador for LGBT athletes in sports and an advocate of many LGBT organisations.

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