“Now that’s a power couple,” wrote one user on Instagram.
Following the U.S. Women’s National Team’s (USWNT) fourth World Cup win, team captain Megan Rapinoe posted a celebratory picture of herself triumphantly embracing her girlfriend, WNBA star Sue Bird, and sporting her blue FIFA winner’s medal around her neck.
“I’m so in love with you. Thank you baby,” Rapinoe wrote in a caption after the USWNT win in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Now USWNT fans around the world are praising “America’s Best Sports Couple” online for being role models to young girls and the LGBTQ community.
“Congratulations!!! Thank you for being such a wonderful and strong role model for my daughters!!!!” wrote one user on Facebook.
Another user added, “You guys truly are an amazing example of how far women have come in sports, and an example to all of us that love is love...love conquers all!!!”
One Instagram user compared their sports powerhouse relationship to a hypothetical coupling between NBA star Lebron James and soccer icon Lionel Messi.
“This is equivalent to Messi dating LeBron,” wrote a user on Instagram.
Millions across the world tuned in to see midfielder Rapinoe dominating on the World Cup field, sinking in one last penalty kick to secure the team’s historic win. Meanwhile, they also witnessed Bird supporting Rapinoe every step of the way, cheering her on from the sidelines, writing a bold article for the Players Tribune, “So the President F*ing Hates My Girlfriend,” and even sealing the USWNT triumph with a celebratory kiss.
While many online are praising Bird and Rapinoe and other USWNT soccer players for their open queerness and being a “bastion of hope” for the lesbian and gay community, others are praising the couple for their activism, both on and off the field.
Rapinoe remained silent during the American national anthem before each match and refused to put her hand over heart; she also famously and openly refused President Trump’s invitation to the USWNT to come to the White House.
“The way you live off the field is more inspirational to the next generation of girls than on. I thank you,” one Facebook user wrote.
“I'm proud to be raising my daughter in a time where there are female athletes like you and what you're standing strong for,” wrote one user on Facebook.
However, Rapinoe’s political protest against the national anthem has also drawn vicious criticism and backlash online, despite also being lauded an “American hero.”
“I don’t give a damn what you do in your personal life but think you’re a total POS for disrespecting our country and flag that I, my forefathers and countless other Americans fought to defend and sacrificed their lives for,” wrote one user on Facebook, adding that she would like to see the USWNT captain kicked off the team.
Another user wrote that they would like to congratulate everyone on the USWNT “MINUS YOU,” calling Rapinoe an “ungrateful non=patriotic B.”
“If I were coach you would NEVER set foot on a soccer field. Wake the hell up. It is this country that gives you the chance to earn big money for playing a game and the flag and national anthem stand for this country and all who fought and died,” the user commented on Facebook.
So t’s clear that while Rapinoe and her fellow USWNT battled their way to the World Cup championship— and won – their fight is far from over.
Rapinoe is one of several USWNT players, including Alex Morgan and Christen Press, fighting for equal pay in a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation. And fans online think it’s about time these women got paid the same as their male counterparts.
“What a great pic of you two.... CONGRATULATIONS Rapinoe!!!” one user commented on Facebook. “Such a well deserved win.... Now, let’s get you ladies PAID!!!!!”
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