Thursday, May 13, 2021

The Fight Goes On For Megan Rapinoe

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Megan Rapinoe encouraged by ‘tone shift’ with U.S. Soccer and equal pay fight, but she’s looking for more

Even though Megan Rapinoe could only attend the NCAA women’s basketball tournament in cutout form, it felt like she was there. The U.S. women’s national team superstar spent game days tweeting about inequality, sure, but also about the games themselves.

The cross-promotion between women’s sports leagues is rising, and Rapinoe is involved not out of requirement but out of pure fandom.

“I have to be really honest, this s*** is cool. That’s why,” Rapinoe told Yahoo Sports of her ongoing tournament commentary. “Like, yes, of course I have a vested interest. I’m a female athlete. I think the s*** that I do is cool. I think the stuff my team does is cool. We win all the time, we’re fun to watch.

“I obviously am doing it purposely to use the platform that I have to talk about whatever sports are happening, but I think in the end it’s very exciting.”

Rapinoe will be off the in-game commentary and back on the pitch this weekend when women’s soccer takes center stage. The USWNT will play Sweden on Saturday and France on Tuesday in preparation for the Tokyo Olympics. The NWSL, meanwhile, where Rapinoe plays for the OL Reign, kicks off its season Friday with the 2021 Challenge Cup.

The two-time FIFA World Cup champion has been busy off the pitch to start 2021. She testified at a Congressional committee hearing last month and along with USWNT teammate Margaret “Midge” Purce met with President Joe Biden at the White House for Equal Pay Day. In February she watched U.S. Soccer officially repeal the rule colloquially known as the “Rapinoe Rule” requiring players to stand during the national anthem.

“It would be a huge stain and a giant embarrassment on all of U.S. Soccer if it didn’t actually get repealed, so I think that’s positive,” she said.

Rapinoe spoke exclusively with Yahoo Sports about the last few months as part of her Women’s History Month partnership with Smirnoff and SideBarre, a Black women-owned small business that hosted the star for a class.

Rapinoe on U.S. Soccer anthem rule discussion

USWNT players Margaret Purce, left, and Megan Rapinoe met with President Joe Biden at an Equal Pay Day event at the White House last week. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

USWNT players Margaret Purce, left, and Megan Rapinoe met with President Joe Biden at an Equal Pay Day event at the White House last week. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The U.S. Soccer Federation voted to repeal the anthem kneeling rule in June 2020 at the urging of the USWNT, USMNT and new federation president Cindy Parlow Cone. The decision was not permanent until U.S. Soccer’s full membership voted to repeal at the annual general meeting in February.

Rapinoe, who first took a knee in 2016 in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, called it a formality.

“I do think it’s important,” Rapinoe told Yahoo Sports. “It’s important what’s on the books. It’s important what things are written down and the policies that companies and organizations have. So it’s another good step forward and another step that shows their commitment to doing better and being a good partner and an active leader in the space.”

More than 70 percent of the ruling body voted to repeal . . .

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