Winning their fourth FIFA Women’s World Cup Championship, Team USA is using their platform to question the international sport’s governing body over the obvious differences between the men’s and women’s competitions.
Athlete-of-the-hour, US co-captain Megan Rapinoe, scored the opening goal penalty shot, while midfielder Rose Lavelle’s finishing score gave the US their 2-0 win over the Netherlands.
Not only anchoring themselves as a formidable powerhouse contender in women’s soccer, the American team’s spotlighting of unequal pay and prize money with Rapinoe taking centrestage as spokesperson, has garnered international support.
The Olympic gold medallist and now two-time World Cup winner expressed her disdain over the wage gap when FIFA president Gianni Infantino announced that the prize money for the 2023 Women’s World Cup would increase to $60m (£48m), although prize money for the men’s World Cup in Qatar in 2022 would increase to $440m (£350m).
Rapinoe is the second player in history to play in three Women’s World Cup finals (2011, 2015, 2019) and winning two (2015 and 2019), after Germany’s Birgit Prinz (1995, 2003, 2007). She is also one of 28 players suing the US Soccer Federation, alleging the men’s team earns more than the women despite playing fewer games and being less successful.
Also wading in, and never one to shy away from controversial statements, US President Donald Trump has accused Rapinoe of disrespect after the co-captain announced that she would not be going to the White House under protest of the current administration, should her team win. He also stated that the athlete should win first before talking, and went on to say that he’ll invite the team whether they win or lose.
Rapinoe responded, “I think obviously answering with a lot of passion, considering how much time and effort and pride we take in the platform that we have, and using it for good, and for leaving the game in a better place and hopefully the world in a better place – I don’t think that I would want to go.”
Having scored the opening goal in the final, Rapinoe also won the Golden Boot as the tournament’s top scorer, as well as the Golden ball for being best overall player of the match in Lyon, France . The out-and-proud athlete is also a strong advocate for numerous LGBT organisations, while being an ambassador for Athlete Ally who focuses on gaining equal access for all athletes in sport regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
Congratulations Team USA!