Megan Rapinoe, one of the star players of the US Women’s Soccer Team, announced her retirement on July 8, capping off a decorated athletic career that included victories in the Olympics and the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Rapinoe, 38, is a renowned winger known for her success on the playing field, but she is also an activist who has used her platform to stand up for the LGBTQ community and, notably, trans inclusion in sports at a time when trans athletes have been under siege nationwide. Rapinoe has also fought for equal treatment in the sports industry, particularly in soccer, which has seen great pay disparities between women’s teams and men’s teams.
Rapinoe said she will retire with the OL Reign of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) following the end of the season. She will be participating in her fourth and final World Cup, which is slated to begin later this month.
“I’ve been able to have such an incredible career, and this game has brought me all over the world and allowed me to meet so many amazing people,” Rapinoe said in a written statement published by US Soccer. “I feel incredibly grateful to have played as long as I have, to be as successful as we’ve been, and to have been a part of a generation of players who undoubtedly left the game better than they found it. To be able to play one last World Cup and one last NWSL season and go out on my own terms is incredibly special.
On the field, Rapinoe has scored 48 goals during an 11-year NWSL career, putting her sixth on the all-time list, and she scored a whopping six goals during the 2019 World Cup. She has had stints with the Chicago Red Stars, Philadelphia Independence, MagicJack, Sydney FC, Seattle Sounders Women, Olympique Lyonnais, and OL Reign.
Rapinoe has won two World Cups, with the most recent being back in 2019 when she was awarded the Golden Boot as top scorer of the tournament and the Golden Ball (or Ballon d’Or, the French translation) for being the best player at that tournament. She scored three goals in the 2012 London Olympics to help the US win the gold medal.
Recently, Rapinoe has been recovering from injuries to her ankle and calf as she gets into shape for upcoming matches.
Athlete Ally, an organization dedicated to ending homophobia and transphobia in sports, commented on Rapinoe’s retirement.
“Megan Rapinoe is a remarkable athlete, but even more remarkable is her work off the pitch to champion equality,” Joanna Hoffman, Athlete Ally’s director of communications, said in a written statement. “In 2013, we first joined forces with Megan when she was one of 36 athletes supporting the Principle 6 Campaign, launched by Athlete Ally and All Out to protest Russia’s anti-gay laws before the Sochi Olympics. In the years since, she has been a fierce fighter for equal pay and trans rights, supporting our Principle 6 campaign, open letter to FIFA calling for increased resources for women in soccer, and numerous amicus briefs in support of trans athletes.”
Hoffman added: “Megan has never wavered in using her platform to champion the kind of future we want for all LGBTQI+ youth — one where they are free to be exactly who they are, and play the sport they love.”