Megan Rapinoe calls for football to 'change the world for the better' after winning women's player of the year at FIFA awards

Megan Rapinoe made a compelling speech after winning at the Best FIFA Football Awards (PA Images)
7:57am, Tue 24 Sep 2019
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World Cup winning football captain Megan Rapinoe has made an impassioned plea against racism, homophobia and inequality after receiving the women's player of the year at the Best FIFA Football Awards.

The 34-year-old, who scored six goals on her way to leading USA to a record fourth World Cup in the summer, spoke powerfully about her hopes for those within the sport to use their influential positions to bring about change.

She said: "Some of the stories that inspired me this year are [Manchester City forward] Raheem Sterling and [Napoli defender] Kalidou Koulibaly - their incredible performances on the field and their reaction to the disgusting racism they have to face, this year, but probably for their whole lives.

"I feel like if we really want to have meaningful change, what I think is most inspiring would be if everybody other than Sterling and Koulibaly were as outraged about racism as they were.

"If everybody was as outraged about homophobia as the LGBTQ players, if everybody was as outraged about equal pay or the lack thereof, or the lack of investment in the women's game, other than just women, that would be the most inspiring thing to me.

"We have such an incredible opportunity being professional footballers, so much success, an incredible platform.

"I ask everyone here, lend your platform to other people, share your success. We have a unique opportunity to use this game to actually change the world for better. I hope you take that to heart, do something, we have incredible power in this room."

The sentiment from the American was then followed up by words from FIFA President Gianni Infantino.

He said: "In whatever form, no to racism in football, no to racism in society. But we can't just say it, we must fight it, kick it out of football and society once and for all."

The former US national team coach Jill Ellis, who guided them to their World Cup triumph, won the women's coach of the year award.

And the FIFA Fifpro Women's Team of the Year was also announced as the USA dominated once more with five inclusions.

Goalkeeper: Sari van Veenendaal (Arsenal and Atletico Madrid/Netherlands)

Defenders: Lucy Bronze (Lyon/England), Wendie Renard (Lyon/France), Nilla Fischer (Wolfsburg and Linkopings/Sweden), Kelley O'Hara (Utah Royals/USA)

Midfielders: Amandine Henry (Lyon/France), Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars/USA)

Attacking midfielders: Marta (Orlando Pride/Brazil), Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit/USA), Megan Rapinoe (Reign FC/USA)

Striker: Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride/USA)