It’s still 2019 for a few more weeks, so it’s also still unofficially the year of Megan Rapinoe. As such, the FIFA World Cup Golden Boot winner is still making the media rounds and touched on a host of human-rights topics with the BBC.
The FIFA Player of the Years has used her public speaking moments, from the celebratory World Cup parade to the award circuit, to speak about how we need to treat each other better and change the world. And in her view, the way soccer federations are treating racism isn’t helping the cause.
Rapinoe calls fines ‘absolute joke’
Rapinoe told the BBC she wants to see larger sanctions against teams for the racist incidents in their stadiums so that they’ll be more inclined to take care of the situation.
In October, UEFA fined the Bulgarian FA after racist abuse of England’s players at a 2020 qualifier. The cost? Two matches played behind closed doors and a measly £65,000 fine that is approximately $83,000 in U.S. dollars.
"£65,000 is an absolute joke," she says of the fine given to Bulgaria for the racist abuse of England players in their recent Euro 2020 qualifier.
She laughs at the figure, but isn't joking.
"For me I'm just like, make it super extreme so it's damaging to the team, to the federation, so it's damaging financially."
A Bulgarian teen was indicted for “grave hooliganism” and four others were fined and banned in the incident. Former Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville called out the fine and said “nobody is doing enough.”
Racism is everyone’s problem
At a Serie A game in Italy over the weekend, Brescia striker Mario Balotelli was subjected to racist abuse from Hellas Verona fans. He punted the ball out of anger and a ref pulled out a yellow card, but did not issue it. All that happened was players tried to console him.
As Yahoo Sports’ Henry Bushnell writes, therein lies the problem. Rapinoe also sees an issue with players not taking a stand for a fellow competitor on the pitch. She told BBC it’s “everybody’s issue” and everyone needs to make it “their problem” to better the game by eliminating racism.
"If there's ever an instance of racism, if every single player on the field is not outraged then to me they're part of the problem," she said.
Rapinoe used 24-year-old Raheem Sterling as an example of fighting racism rather than staying silent. The Manchester City forward has backed point deductions and competitive bans for teams found guilty of racist behavior, rather than the “joke” fines Rapinoe referenced.
There’s ongoing controversy in Serie A, but this is a problem soccer-wide. Rapinoe’s USWNT teammate, keeper Adrianna Franch, was subjected to racist taunts while with her NWSL club team, the Portland Thorns, this summer.
As for that political office question
As for Rapinoe getting this done from the White House? She hasn’t ruled out running for political office of some sort, but it’s something she would do later in life if she wanted to do it. She reiterated it to the BBC, saying “definitely not right now.”
"Contrary to what the last election taught us about people totally unqualified getting put into office, I don't think that should be the norm and I'm gonna put myself in that category — I don't quite think I'm qualified.”
Rapinoe did not play and watched as USWNT gave Vlatko Andonovski his first win coaching the team against Sweden on Thursday.
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