Megan Rapinoe, co-captain of the champion U.S. women’s national soccer team, was crowned FIFA’s Best Women’s Player of 2019 at a Monday ceremony in Milan.
Rapinoe’s achievement comes on the heels of a very successful year for the Reign FC midfielder, who was also awarded the coveted Golden Boot and Golden Ball at this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup for scoring the most goals at the tournament and for being its most valuable player, respectively.
Rapinoe, who scored six goals and snagged three assists overall, helped the U.S. clinch its second consecutive World Cup title. In the finals, she scored the first of the U.S. team’s two goals against the Netherlands, who lost the match 2-0.
In her acceptance speech at the star-studded Best FIFA Football Awards event on Monday, Rapinoe — who has gained global attention for her no-holds-barred criticism of President Donald Trump and her activism for women’s and LGBTQ rights — urged her fellow soccer players to use their public platforms to take a stand against bigotry and to “lift other people up.”
“We have such an incredible opportunity being professional football players,” Rapinoe said. “We have so much success, financial and otherwise. We have incredible platforms. I ask everyone here ... lend your platform to other people, lift other people up, share your success. We have a unique opportunity in football different to any other sport in the world to use this beautiful game to actually change the world for better.”
“Do something, do anything,” she added. “We have incredible power in this room.”
Rapinoe wasn’t the only member of the U.S. women’s soccer team who was fêted at the FIFA ceremony.
Jill Ellis, who resigned as the team’s head coach in July after their World Cup win, was named the Best FIFA Women’s Coach of the year; and almost half of the inaugural FIFA FIFPro Women’s World11, a dream soccer team comprising the world’s best women athletes voted for by thousands of professional players globally, was made up of American soccer stars.
Rapinoe was voted to be in the World11, as was Alex Morgan, Julie Ertz, Rose Lavelle and Kelley O’Hara.