May 23, 2024

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Megan Rapinoe announces retirement after the World Cup, NWSL season

Megan Rapinoe announces retirement after the World Cup, NWSL season

Megan Rapinoe, a soccer star who has been a fixture on the dominant US women’s national team and one of the most politically outspoken American athletes, said Saturday that she plans to retire at the end of the year, making it her next World Cup.

Rapinoe, 38, has played for the US women’s national team since 2006 and the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, scheduled to begin later this month, will be her fourth.

“I could never have imagined where this beautiful game would take me,” Rapinoe told reporters during an unexpected appearance at a news conference ahead of the United States’ game against Wales in San Jose, California, scheduled for Sunday.

“I feel proud to have represented this country and this federation for so many years,” she said. “It really was the greatest thing I ever did.”

Rapinoe, who has been plagued by numerous injuries throughout her career, was dealing with an ankle injury prior to the start of the Women’s National Football League season and missed two friendlies with Ireland in April due to a calf injury.

Rapinoe made perhaps her biggest mark in 2019, when she won the Golden Ball award as the best female soccer player of the year and was awarded the Golden Boot as the top scorer and the Golden Ball as the best player in the World Cup with six goals.

She has been outspoken on many issues, including LGBT rights, and was a frequent opponent of former President Donald J. Trump. Her leadership of the team also came at a time when she was fighting with the National Federation for equal pay, and facing the differences between the economics of the men’s and women’s versions of the sport.

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Rapinoe also played in two women’s professional leagues in the United States, beginning with the Women’s Professional League, which ended in 2011, and in the NFL. She said she would retire from the NFL after this season.

Alex Morgan, another top star on the U.S. team, said Rapinoe sent a text message to the team’s group chat on Saturday morning to announce her decision. “Well, now we have to go win it all,” said Morgan.