The US women's national football team players celebrate at the podium after lifting the FIFA Women's World Cup on July 7.
The United States Women’s National Football Team (USWNT) beat the Netherlands 2-0 in the final of the FIFA Women's World Cup to lift its fourth title at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais on July 7.
United States, who won the title in 1991, 1999 and 2015, were firm favourites going into the final. The Netherlands, the reigning European champions, were able to keep the US side from scoring in the first half. However, the second half saw US come in with renewed vigour and focus, led by co-skipper Megan Rapino, who scored their opener.
Rapinoe struck through a penalty in the 61st minute, and, eight minutes later, Rose Lavelle scored which sealed the Cup for the US.
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The evening belonged to Rapinoe, who was awarded the Golden Boot as well as the Golden Ball, a sign of the influence she had in the journey of an all-conquering US side. A very vocal leader on and off the pitch, Rapinoe, despite criticism, used the platform of the World Cup to stand up for racial equity, pay equality and LGBTQ rights. In fact, at the podium, she used the spotlight to highlight her team’s fight for equal pay.
The influence of Rapinoe in the team was further highlighted by coach Jill Ellis after the trophy ceremony. Ellis explained how Rapinoe was good at handling pressures on and off the pitch and why her stance is important not just for the US team but also women’s football across the world.
"I think Megan was built for this, built for these moments, built to be a spokesperson for others,” Ellis told reporters. “I’ve sat in a couple of pressers with her and she’s just incredibly eloquent. I think speaks well and speaks from her heart. We need people like that in the game, to be honest, to call things for what they are."
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The coach added: "In terms of her dealing with this, no, I never had any issues with that because for the past four and a half-five years I’ve seen what she’s capable of.
"I think almost the bigger the spotlight the more she shines. Sometimes spotlights can burn people but I think for Megan it just highlights who she is.”
Rapinoe was equally charismatic on the pitch. She tied her goals tally in the Golden Boot race with Alex Morgan after the penalty strike. Rapinoe was tied with Morgan on the assists count as well, but edged out her teammate on account of fewer minutes on the pitch.
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