United States World Cup winner Megan Rapinoe has hailed Raheem Sterling and Kalidou Koulibaly for speaking out against racism in football, and called on everyone in the game to strive for meaningful change.
Rapinoe was named as the Best Women’s Player at Monday’s FIFA Best Awards in Milan, following her displays at the Women’s World Cup in the summer.
The Reign FC winger scored six goals at the tournament, and also thanked for coach Jill Ellis.
“I’m at a loss for words,” she said.
“First and foremost I want to thank my family, my friends and family, thank you for all my support you’ve given me and all the coaches I’ve had in my life.
“Jill Ellis and the rest have put us in a great position. This was an incredible year for women’s football, for those who just noticed you are a bit late to the party. It truly was incredible, to be part of the World Cup, the enthusiasm we had was amazing.”
Rapinoe then went on to highlight the work being done by Sterling and Koulibaly, both of whom have suffered racist abuse when playing for Manchester City and Napoli respectively.
“Some of the stories that inspired me this year are Raheem Sterling and Kalidou Koulibaly – their incredible performances on the field and their reaction to the disgusting racism they have to take,” she said.
“If we really want to have meaningful change, if everyone other than Sterling or Koulibaly was outraged, if everyone was outraged by the homophobia…
“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.”