Paris (AFP) – Megan Rapinoe completed an unprecedented clean sweep of honours on Monday as the trailblazing World Cup star and feminist icon added the Women’s Ballon d’Or to her collection of accolades.
The 34-year-old striker was the star of this year’s Women’s World Cup, scoring six goals as the United States successfully defended their title.
Rapinoe’s tournament goals tally earned her the Golden Boot for top-scorer while she was also awarded the Golden Ball for the best player.
Rapinoe had already picked up the FIFA’s Best Women’s Player award in September, and it was inevitable she would claim what was only the second edition of the Ballon d’Or Feminin, won by Norway’s Ada Hegerberg in 2018.
“It’s been an incredible year,” Rapinoe said in a recorded video message shown at the ceremony at the Chatelet Theatre in Paris, having been unable to travel to the event.
“I want to say a huge thank you to my team-mates, the coaches, the US Soccer Federation, for all of the support to allow me to be who I am and do what I do on the field but also be the person who I am off the field.”
The honour crowns a remarkable year for Rapinoe which has seen her enhance her reputation as a warrior both on and off the pitch.
Her performances at the World Cup were a critical part of the United States’ title defence, but Rapinoe has garnered almost as much attention in 2019 for her unflinching advocacy of social justice off the field.
That readiness to speak her mind famously brought her into conflict with US President Donald Trump during the World Cup.
Rapinoe had provoked Trump’s ire in comments made several months before the tournament when she stated bluntly that she would not attend a White House reception for the US team if they brought home the World Cup.
“I am a big fan of the American Team, and Women’s Soccer,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “But Megan should WIN first before she TALKS! Finish the job!”
Rapinoe did finish the job several days later, scoring the opening goal in a 2-0 defeat of the Netherlands in the final in Lyon.
– Calls for unity –
Since then, Rapinoe has happily kept on talking.
At a victory parade in New York in July, Rapinoe, who is gay, saluted the diversity of the all-conquering US team while calling for unity.