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Megan Rapinoe Honored with the Medal of Freedom

Updated: Jun 12, 2023

President Biden presenting Megan Rapinoe with the medal of freedom

Megan Rapinoe is an American soccer champion and activist who has won two World Cup titles and an Olympic gold medal. In 2019, she won the Golden Boot for scoring the most goals at a World Cup and the Golden Ball for being the top player in the tournament. In the same year, she went on to be named FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year. Along with her many accolades, Rapinoe is known for her eye-catching style and activism for racial justice, equal pay and LGBTQ+ rights.

Prior to her adulthood successes, Rapinoe played for the U.S. Soccer Under-17 youth team and then delayed her college enrollment to join the Under-19 team. In 2005 she attended the University of Portland on a soccer scholarship and managed to help them win the NCAA Division 1 Championship. After college, Rapinoe went on to play for both the U.S. Women’s National Team, the Olympic Team and other international teams.

Most people know about the disparities between pay for men and women in sports. Because of how disparate this issue is in women’s soccer, Rapinoe has made it a point to fight for equal pay within the sport. She was at the forefront of filing a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation for pay discrimination. The two parties later reached an agreement to improve and bring parity to working conditions. In 2016 when Colin Kapernick began kneeling during the national anthem at NFL games to protest racial injustice, Rapinoe followed suit a week later and became known as the first well-known white athlete to kneel at a game. Her decision resulted in family tension and being taken off the team roster. She did not play again until April 2017. Rapinoe has also spoken out about the need for change in laws that deal with addicts. She is the first soccer player to receive a Presidential Medal of Freedom. To the ceremony, she wore a suit embroidered with the letters BG in response to Brittney Griner’s unfair Russian imprisonment. President Biden said, "Megan is a champion for the essential American truth that everyone be treated with dignity and respect".

Megan Rapinoe receiving the medal of freedom from President Biden

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