Women’s football is now more visible and more popular than ever – thanks, in large part, to USA co-captain Megan Rapinoe.
After securing victory and retaining the World Cup, Rapinoe used her moment in the spotlight to highlight an important cause: equal pay. Held at the Stade de Lyon stadium, she seized the glorious moment after their 2-0 win over the Netherlands on July 7, to react to the crowd chants for “equal pay”.
The USA women's football captain – who first came to cultural prominence when she outright condemned the notion of attending the White House should her team win the final – has consistently championed change for female players throughout the tournament.
“I think everyone is ready for this conversation to move to the next step,” she said after hearing an “equal pay” chant and the Fifa president, Gianni Infantino, being booed in the stadium.
“I think we’re done with: ‘Are we worth it, should we have equal pay, is the market the same?’ Yada yada," she continued.
"We as players, every player at this World Cup, put on the most incredible show that you could ever ask for. We cannot do anything more to impress more, to be better ambassadors, to take on more, to play better or do anything. It’s time to take it forward to the next step. A little public shame never hurt anybody, right? I’m down with the boos.”
Rapinoe’s determination is unwavering. Case in point: the US team is currently suing its federation over equal pay and working conditions.
In March, 28 members of the US Women's National Team (USWNT) announced they had plans to sue the US Soccer Federation for allegedly discriminating by paying the women less than members of the men's national team "for substantially equal work and by denying them at least equal playing, training, and travel conditions; equal promotion of their games; equal support and development for their games; and other terms and conditions of employment equal to the MNT."
And USA manager, Jill Ellis, is backing her up. “Megan was built for this, built for these moments, built to be a spokesperson,” Ellis said. “She’s eloquent. She speaks well and from the heart. I never had any worries about Megan speaking out. The bigger the spotlight the more she shines.”
The prize for the 2018 men's World Cup stood at $400 million, while female players will receive $30 million this year. FIFA President Gianni Infantino said the organization will double it for the next women's World Cup in 2023, but Rapinoe said there still would be a long way to go.
Main image by @mrapinoe
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