She may well have defiantly refused to sing the Star-Spangled Banner, the US national anthem, before the FIFA Women’s World Cup final against Holland yesterday, but everyone watching could be assured that Megan Rapinoe had a tune in her heart.
America co-skipper Rapinoe has made a stand against the current administration across the pond, led by a certain Donald J Trump, and has faced criticism from the President among others for airing her views. One of those views was that she wouldn’t, in fact, as is the custom, visit the White House if her team were victorious and lifted the biggest prize in world football for the second time on the spin.
But all her talking came on the pitch yesterday when she led her side to a reasonably convincing 2-0 win over a battling Holland outfit in Lyon in front of an astonishing, and record-breaking TV audience said to be around the billion mark. And, you guessed it, cometh the hour, cometh the woman; she just happened to chalk up the opening goal of the final (from the penalty spot just after the hour mark, with Rose Lavelle hitting the second 10 minutes later) AND scooped the Golden Boot (with six goals and three assists), as well as the Golden Ball as she was officially named as the player of the match in Lyon. All in a day’s work for this extraordinarily footballer — and woman.
After lifting aloft the treasured trophy, Rapinoe — capped by her country 158 times — said:
“It’s unbelievable just to know all of the people in our group have put in so much work. We have all our friends and family here, it is surreal. I feel invincible. We’ve put on the most incredible show that anyone could have asked for. We can’t be better ambassadors. A little public shame never hurt anyone, right?”
US coach boss Jill Ellis — the first coach to lift the trophy twice — says the victory was fully deserved and praised her charges for making history with the triumphant campaign. She said:
“This is an amazing group of players – they showed fantastic resilience. They put their hearts and souls into this journey, I cannot thank them enough. I could barely speak immediately after the game but I told them they had made history and to enjoy it.”
Goal scorer Lavelle typified the team spirit coursing through the US team when she refused to take the plaudits for finishing off the Dutch with her strike for 2-0. She said:
“The whole experience hasn’t really hit me yet. I think I have such amazing players around me, it’s easy to look good when you play with all these incredible players, and I feel so lucky to be a part of this group.”