U.S. women's national team star Megan Rapinoe touches on a wide array of topics, both on and off the field, in an in-depth interview.

By Grant Wahl
March 01, 2018

U.S. women’s national team midfielder Megan Rapinoe is the latest guest on the Planet Fútbol Podcast. In a wide-ranging conversation, Rapinoe touched on a number of topics, both on and off the field. With the SheBelieves Cup kicking off Thursday night, Rapinoe delves into the USA's last couple of years and what the focus is entering three high-profile games. She also discusses her partner, basketball star Sue Bird, and being an ally of Colin Kaepernick in support of the fight against racism and police brutality of African Americans. 

Here are some of the standout quotes from the interview, which can be heard in full in the podcast console below. You can subscribe to and download the podcast on iTunes here:

On the most important thing to Rapinoe about the SheBelieves Cup beginning Thursday:

“I think for me and for the team at this point it’s time to kind of start putting it all together. We’ve gone through a period where we’ve tried out a lot of different players and sort of tinkered with lineups and this and that. I think it’s really time for us to start putting things together, start stringing good performances together that we can start building on heading into the qualifiers but also the bigger picture of heading into France ’19 and looking to hopefully defend our title.”

On the similarities in vision that she and her partner, the basketball star Sue Bird, have in their respective sports:

“I think if I could have half the vision that Sue has on the basketball court on the soccer field, I’d be in a pretty good place. Our games are kind of similar. I think Sue is probably a bit more successful than I am in hers and probably a better player overall—keep that between us, don’t let her know that. But both of us aren’t the strongest or the fastest or the "most athletic," but I think we try to find ourselves in good spaces and we’re sort of about bringing everybody involved in the team. Sometimes just making the simple pass or doing what you’re supposed to do and keeping the team rhythm clicking over is the most important thing.”

On U.S. Soccer agreeing to stage USWNT games this year on natural grass:

“I do believe that is correct. I think some of them had been slated to have been on turf, I think a number of them. Which was something that was really important to us in our CBA. While we realize maybe every single game can’t be on grass or maybe there are some opportunities if we can sell out an 80,000-seat stadium on turf, then maybe we’re willing to do that. But I think that was something we really fought for and something that we wanted to get a better relationship in terms of venue selection between the federation and us. I think that must have changed at some point. Some of the games were at least preliminarily slated to be on turf, and now they’re not.”

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On how she looks back on her decision to take a knee during the national anthem as an ally of Colin Kaepernick and his protest against police treatment of black Americans:

“I look at it very positively. I think that if I had to do it all over again, I would do the same thing. I think the only thing maybe I’d do differently is maybe talk to people first about it, but even then it’s like I wasn’t looking for permission or even really thinking about that. It wasn’t about making a statement or saying this or that. What Colin was saying I thought was really powerful and really resonated. And I felt like it was my responsibility just as I believe it’s everybody’s responsibility to do whatever they can in whatever way they can to support. I think it’s not a matter of if there is police brutality or if there is discrimination against people of color or if there is systematic white supremacy in this country. It’s pretty obvious that there is, now more than ever. So I think it’s everybody’s responsibility to do whatever they can in the most impactful way that they can to help this society and help people in this country achieve equality and be the best person that they can. So I feel good about what I did. I wish more people would do it. I wish more action would be taken. I wish we would not have to do it. But we’re not at that point.”

On whether enough white athletes understand what it means to be an ally against racism:

“Not at all. I think the number of white players, just say in the NFL, that not even knelt but I would say voiced their opinion or their support of Kaepernick and what was happening was not nearly enough. And just in general I think there are not nearly enough white players that have been outward and have been sort of outspoken in their support for Colin and just in general for at least standing up to or acknowledging the inequality and racism that people of color and African-American athletes have to deal with on a daily basis.”

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