Football legend and lesbian icon Megan Rapinoe announces retirement after World Cup

Megan Rapinoe

Iconic US soccer player Megan Rapinoe has confirmed that she will be retiring from football at the end of the current National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) season. 

The two-time Women’s World Cup champion, proud lesbian and vocal trans ally posted a statement on social media on Saturday (8 July), announcing her retirement from the beautiful game.

Rapinoe, 38, shared a photo of herself as a child, along with a heartfelt caption confirming that “this will be my final season”.

The football legend wrote: “It is with a deep sense of peace and gratitude that I have decided this will be my final season playing this beautiful game. 

“I never could have imagined the ways in which soccer would shape and change my life forever, but by the look on this little girl’s face, she knew all along.”

The Seattle-based OL Reign star – who plays as a winger – won gold with the US national team at the 2012 London Summer Olympics and bagged the top prize with her team at the 2015 and 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cups.

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From 2018-2020, Rapinoe co-captained the US national team alongside Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan. In 2019, she was named the Best FIFA Women’s Player of the year, and took home the Ballon d’Or Féminin award. Last year saw Rapinoe become the first football player to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

She has previously played for the Chicago Red Stars, Philadelphia Independence, MagicJack in Women’s Professional Soccer, and Olypique Lyon in France’s Division 1 Féminine.

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Megan Rapinoe takes a shot at the Korea Republic goal during the first half of the International Friendly match at Children’s Mercy Park in 2021. (Kyle Rivas/Getty Images)

Rapinoe will also play her last Women’s World Cup in 2023, which starts on 20 July in Australia and New Zealand. The US ready to defend their two-time winning streak at this year’s tournament.

Aside from her stellar sporting achievements, Rapinoe is known for her activism off the pitch, taking the knee in solidarity with NFL star Colin Kaepernick and engaging in legal action over equal pay for women in US football.

The soccer legend has proved herself an unflinching trans ally in a year when LGBTQ+ rights – and particularly the rights of trans people – are increasingly under attack across the US.

Megan Rapinoe reacts with arms outstretched to celebrate her goal in the second half of the National Women’s Soccer League match against NJ/NY Gotham FC at Red Bull Arena in September 2022. (Ira L. Black – Corbis/Getty Images)

In March, Rapinoe dedicated her prestigious TIME Woman of the Year award to the trans community, telling attendees at the second annual gala: “We all know what’s going on in our country with the attempted erasure of trans people.”

A mere month later, the footballer was among 40 Olympic and Paralympic athletes who signed an open letter opposing a Florida ban on trans women and girls from taking part in sports which receive federal funding.

Megan Rapinoe came out publicly as a lesbian in the July 2012 edition of Out magazine, and has been engaged to former professional basketball player and fellow Olympic gold medallist Sue Bird since 2020. The couple are reportedly yet to tie the knot.

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