Anytime FIFA handed out an award in 2019, there was a 95 percent chance it was going to Megan Rapinoe.
After winning this year’s Golden Ball, Golden Boot, and World Cup, Rapinoe owns so much gold that she officially qualifies as a Bond villain. Now she has added one more accolade: the FIFA Best Women’s Player in the World.
In other words, FIFA has now officially acknowledged what the rest of us already knew.
The USWNT dominated the award voting in much the same way that they did the World Cup with Rapinoe’s teammate Alex Morgan finishing as first runner up. Third place was taken by England’s appropriately named fullback Lucy Bronze.
As she did throughout this year, Rapinoe stole the show with her acceptance speech, thanking “all of my teammates that put up with all of my shit all of the time.” When that includes six World Cup goals including the eventual Final winner, you can understand why her teammates would be willing to put up with all that.
Turning to weightier matters, Rapinoe then acknowledged some of the most important soccer stories taking place off the field:
“Some of the stories that have inspired me the most this year... Raheem Sterling and [Kalidou] Koulibaly, their incredible performances on the field but the way they have taken on the disgusting racism that they have to face...”
In the past year, both Sterling and Koulibaly have both publicly called out racist behavior from British and Italian soccer fans, respectively. It was especially noteworthy that Rapinoe praised Koulibaly, as the FIFA ceremony was taking place in Milan, Italy.
Rapinoe continued listing the stories that were most important to her...
“The young Iranian woman who eventually set herself on fire because she wasn’t able to go to the game. The one out MLS player [Collin] Martin and the countless other female LGBTQ players who fight so hard every day to a) Just play the sport they love but b) To fight the rampant homophobia that we have.”
Her tip of the hat was immediately noticed by Martin, an out gay player in MLS, as he tweeted in response:
Just watched @mPinoe acceptance speech for FIFA women’s world played of the year. Your selflessness and willingness to uplift others while being at the top of your game is so inspiring. Thanks for the shout-out and your continued activism for so many in our beloved sport— Collin Martin (@martcw12) September 23, 2019
It’s always nice to find out the best people in sports are also fans of each other.
Finally, Rapinoe gave everyone in the room a taste of why she was the heart and soul of the World Cup Champions:
“We have such an incredible opportunity being professional football players. We have so much success, financial and otherwise. We have incredible platforms. I ask everyone here--because I think everyone in this room probably has that crown that they’re bearing--to lend your platform to other people. Lift other people up. Share your success.
“We have a unique opportunity in football different to any other sport in the world: to use this beautiful game to actually change the world for the better. That’s my charge to everyone. I hope you take that to heart and just do something. Do anything. We have incredible power in this room.”
At this point, it was abundantly clear why Megan Rapinoe was the Best Player in the World off the pitch as well.