Megan Rapinoe has urged Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, as well as other leading male superstars, to be more outspoken on social issues including racism and sexism.
United States international Rapinoe won the women’s Ballon d’Or this week, joining Messi on the stage at the annual awards gala as the Barcelona great claimed the men’s prize for a record sixth time, one more than rival Ronaldo.
Rapinoe became the second woman to win the Ballon d’Or, after Ada Hegerberg won the inaugural prize last year.
But Rapinoe, who has long been vociferous in her opposition to discrimination, does not believe her male counterparts are doing enough.
“I want to shout, ‘Cristiano, Leo, Zlatan [Ibrahimovic], help me’,” she told France Football.
“These big stars do not engage in anything when there are so many problems in men’s football.
“Do they have the fear of losing everything? They believe that but it’s not true.
“Who would scratch Messi or Ronaldo’s names from the world of football for a statement against racism or sexism?”
Rapinoe suggested recognition of her individual achievements was in part due to the way she has been open to discussing key topics.
“This Ballon d’Or rewards both,” she said.
“On the one hand, I am a very good footballer. On the other hand, my activism attracts support.
“People understand that I act to find solutions to the problems in our society. The idea is to empower others to speak loudly.”
Rapinoe has never been shy about her views on societal issues and was outspoken again this summer at the World Cup in France.
The 34-year-old feuded with Donald Trump, called out FIFA for their lack of progress in the women’s game and delivered an impassioned speech on what being American means to her, among other eye-popping moments on the pitch.
Rapinoe scored six goals in seven games at the World Cup as the USWNT won their second straight world title and fourth overall.
Rapinoe saved her biggest goals for the knockout phase, as she netted a double in both the round of 16 against Spain and the quarterfinal against France, before also scoring in the final against the Netherlands.