MILAN – Megan Rapinoe won the women’s player award – ahead of fellow American Alex Morgan and England’s Lucy Bronze – at the Best Fifa Football Awards in Milan.
Rapinoe, 34, claimed the Golden Ball for being the best player at the 2019 Women’s World Cup as she helped the United States win the competition.
Lyon right-back Bronze, 27, was named in the women’s team of the year – the only English player to feature.
Rapinoe’s international boss, Jill Ellis, took the women’s coach award.
The 53-year-old, who also guided the United States to the World Cup trophy in 2015, announced in July that she will be stepping down as the national coach in October.
The other managers to be nominated were the Netherlands’ Sarina Wiegman, whose side lost 2-0 in the final to the United States, and England’s Phil Neville, who guided the Lionesses to fourth place.
‘An incredible year for women’s football’
Rapinoe scored six times during the Women’s World Cup, including the opener in the final, and has also been a leading personality in the fight for equality in sport.
Before the final, she accused Fifa, football’s governing body, of not showing women’s football enough respect as the game was played on the same date as the men’s Copa America and Gold Cup finals.
Rapinoe has also called for the United States women’s team to be paid the same as their male counterparts.
The US co-captain, who is gay, also encouraged her victorious United States team not to meet President Donald Trump as she said his administration “doesn’t feel the same way and fight for the same things we fight for”.
In a powerful speech when collecting her award from Fifa president Gianni Infantino, Rapinoe highlighted the racism, homophobia and inequalities that she said still exist in football.
She said: “Some of the stories that inspired me this year are [Manchester City forward] Raheem Sterling and [Napoli defender] Kalidou Koulibaly – their incredible performances on the field and their reaction to the disgusting racism they have to face, this year but probably for their whole lives.
“I feel like if we really want to have meaningful change, what I think is most inspiring would be if everybody other than Sterling and Koulibaly were as outraged about racism as they were.
“If everybody was as outraged about homophobia as the LGBTQ players, if everybody was as outraged about equal pay or the lack thereof, or the lack of investment in the women’s game, other than just women, that would be the most inspiring thing to me.
“We have such an incredible opportunity being professional footballers, so much success, an incredible platform.
“I ask everyone here, lend your platform to other people, share your success. We have a unique opportunity to use this game to actually change the world for better. I hope you take that to heart, do something, we have incredible power in this room.” -BBC