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Megan Rapinoe calls on Messi, Ronaldo to combat inequality in soccer

Megan Rapinoe has stood at the forefront of fight against inequality in women’s soccer. And after she won the Ballon d’Or as the world’s top soccer player of the last year Monday, she is calling on high-profile male stars to join her cause and correct the issues that plague the men’s game. 

“I feel like yelling, ‘Cristiano (Ronaldo), Leo (Messi) and Zlatan (Ibrahimovic), help me.’ These huge stars are not engaged, not active, nor involved in anything and therefore there are tons of problems in the men’s soccer world,” Rapinoe told France Football (independently translated by USA TODAY Sports). “Are they afraid of losing everything? They believe so, but it’s not true. Who’s going to kick out Messi or Ronaldo from the game of soccer for a declaration about racism or sexism?” 

Recently, European soccer has seen an increase in racist outbursts near the pitch. Last week, Fox Sports suspended broadcaster Marco van Basten who used Nazi terminology during an interview. 

USA women's captain Megan Rapinoe 
 celebrates next to NY Mayor Bill de Blasio in front of the City Hall after the ticker tape parade for the women's World Cup Football champions on July 10, 2019 in New York.

But male stars are not as keen on speaking out as Rapinoe is, and she said she hopes that changes as the game continues to battle racism and sexism.

Rapinoe led the women’s national team to gold at the World Cup in France this summer and took home the Golden Boot as the top player in the tournament. During the team’s victory tour, she was the leading voice in the publicized fight for equal pay compared to the men’s national squad.

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