On Saturday, U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe announced that she will retire at the end of the National Women’s Soccer League season, calling time on a glittering career.
The 38-year-old forward, who is preparing for her fourth World Cup later this month, is one of the sport’s biggest stars. Since making her international debut in 2006, she has played a key role in a string of national team successes, winning the World Cup in 2015 and 2019 and Olympic gold in 2012. Rapinoe plays for OL Reign in the NWSL. The league’s regular season ends Oct. 15 and its championship game will be on Nov. 11.
The image of Rapinoe standing, arms outstretched, celebrating her goal against France in the quarterfinal of the 2019 World Cup is one of the most iconic in the history of U.S. soccer.
“I don’t think Megan Rapinoe’s impact on our sport or our society could be overstated,” U.S. Soccer Federation President Cindy Parlow Cone told MarketWatch on Sunday. “She is obviously one of the greatest players to play for the national team … her impact that she has had off the field is just tremendous.
“I like to learn from a lot of different leaders in different industries around the world, and I have been able to watch and observe Megan and learn and grow as a person and as a leader,” Parlow Cone added. “I think she has had that type of impact for people all over the world.
“We will miss her playing on the national team and playing between the white lines, but I know Megan Rapinoe’s story is not done yet and I look forward to seeing what she chooses to do after her playing days are done,” said Parlow Cone, herself a World Cup winner in 1999 and an Olympic gold medalist in 1996 and 2004.
Rapinoe was one of the leaders in the U.S. women’s team’s successful battle for pay equity with the men’s national team, and is a high-profile advocate for LGBTQ+ issues. In 2019, she became embroiled in a war of words with then-President Donald Trump, who criticized her for protesting when the U.S. national anthem was played before games at the World Cup in France. Rapinoe said she was protesting social injustice in the U.S.
The soccer player has founded the production company A Touch More with her fiancée, WNBA star Sue Bird. Launched in partnership with media and commerce company Togethxr, A Touch More is described on its website as a production company “that centers stories of revolutionaries that move culture forward.”
Rapinoe is also chief equality officer of workplace equity company Trusaic.
In a recent interview with Time, Rapinoe discussed being a “mogul for women’s sports, a mogul for good,” but said she would never run for office.
Additional reporting by Quentin Fottrell.