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Megan Rapinoe: Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo Could Do More to Fight Racism

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 30, 2020

FILE - In this March 8, 2020, file photo, U.S. forward Megan Rapinoe runs during the second half of a SheBelieves Cup soccer match against Spain in Harrison, N.J. Rapinoe is among the athletes touting the benefits of CBD for pain management and recovery. CBD products have become big business after the 2018 Farm Bill made hemp a legal agricultural crop. CBD is found in both hemp and marijuana plants. It has been hailed as a health and wellness aid and infused in everything from gummies to lotions. Rapinoe's twin sister Rachael has helped launch a CBD products company called Mendi, which is geared toward athletes. (AP Photo/Steve Luciano, File)
Steve Luciano/Associated Press

United States women's national team star Megan Rapinoe called upon Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to do more to heighten awareness of and address social justice issues.

"They could do so much if they decided to use their stupendous level of popularity to fight racism, for example," Rapinoe said in an interview with French newspaper L'Equipe (h/t Goal's Robin Bairner). "I'm not talking about wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt, I'm talking about going deeper."

Rapinoe added that Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe can make a significant impact as well as one of the faces of the sport for the future: 

"I hope he understands the impact he can have, and how this influence can prove to be formidable for himself. He came into the world with an extraordinary gift which allows him to lead an extraordinary, very comfortable life. Perhaps he can ask himself how to establish a balance, how to inspire youth.

"I hope he understands that he can change the world, that it is not just an empty idea. Sometimes you decide for yourself to change the world, sometimes it falls on you. If you want to be the king, then be the best king you can be."

Rapinoe has been outspoken on social issues in recent years.

The 2019 Ballon d'Or winner showed solidarity with then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick when she knelt during the national anthem prior to a 2016 NWSL game.

Jessica Clarendon @jessicadolan

@EdgeofSports https://t.co/ppxkQtLKqF

She continued with the protest during national team games until U.S. Soccer issued a policy mandating players stand for the anthem, a policy the federation has since rolled back.

During an interview with Eight by Eight magazine, Rapinoe said she was "not going to the f--king White House" in the event the USWNT won the 2019 Women's World Cup (warning: tweet contains profanity):

Eight by Eight @8by8mag

“I’m not going to the fucking White House.” - @mPinoe https://t.co/sz1ADG2WdT

The squad staged a celebration in New York City rather than take a ceremonial visit to the White House to celebrate their successful World Cup title defense.

Rapinoe was also among the USWNT stars who filed suit against U.S. Soccer, alleging the federation was failing to compensate women's national team players at a rate that equaled their peers on the men's team. A judge ruled in U.S. Soccer's favor in May.    

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