Megan Rapinoe is not a happy camper.
The openly gay soccer star is lashing out at FIFA for its nominees for world’s top female soccer player, after an amateur player was nominated for The Best Award. The athlete in question was Florida State soccer player Deyna Castellanos, who is from Venezuela. Castellanos is also the youngest player ever to be nominated for the award.
Rapinoe was not nominated for the award.
“The award just doesn’t hold a lot of weight when you’ve got someone on the list I’ve never heard of,” Rapinoe told the BBC.
According to the Tallahassee Democrat:
Castellanos scored seven goals in 13 appearances (all starts) for the Seminoles in 2016. She missed a good chunk of the season playing the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Jordan, where she led Venezuela to a fourth-place finish by scoring five goals in six matches.
Rapinoe wasn’t finished.
"If some random male player, who was not even a full professional, was nominated, I'm sure they would step in for that,” Rapinoe continued. “So it's disappointing that the same hasn't been done for us."
Both FIFA’s expert nominating panel and final voters seemingly voted for Castellanos based on her performances in a tournament that was outside of the evaluation window, to say nothing of the absurdity of considering youth tournament performances when deciding who should be considered the best player in the world.
It’s an interesting conundrum. On the one hand, it’s great to see an amateur player — and one from an impoverished nation — be nominated for the award. Yet Rapinoe has a point in that on the men’s side, no amateur player would be nominated today.
We’re left wondering whether they actually got it right with the women and more amateur men should be considered, or this is a case of gender bias and a not-so-subtle message that all female soccer players are amateur. The latter possibility, which Rapinoe clearly claims, is disturbing.