United States icon Megan Rapinoe has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, becoming the first footballer to receive the honour.
Rapinoe has been a legend of the game for United States, winning the World Cup on two occasions and landing the Ballon d’Or Femenin in 2019.
But as well as her exploits on the field, she has been a champion of LGBT rights, racial equality and the campaign for equal pay.
President Biden recognised her achievements with the Medal of Freedom, which she will receive at the White House on July 7.
“U.S. Women’s National Team forward Megan Rapinoe will receive the nation’s highest civilian honour when the President of the United States awards her the Presidential Medal of Freedom on July 7 at the White House,” read a statement from US Soccer.
“The award recognises people who have made exemplary contributions to the prosperity, values, or security of the United States, world peace, or other significant societal, public or private endeavours.
“Rapinoe is the first soccer player to receive the award and one of just six female athletes or coaches to be so honoured along fellow 2022 recipient and Olympic gold medal gymnast Simone Biles, tennis player and women’s rights pioneer Billie Jean King, 1932 Summer Olympics track and field gold medalist and professional golfer Babe Didrikson Zaharias, women’s basketball legend Pat Summitt and professional golfer Annika Sorenstam.
“Before this year, just 647 people have received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the past 59 years since the award was first given out in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy.”
Rapinoe received a call from Biden, and reacted by praising others who she feels deserve a portion of her medal.
“I just think of all the people who I feel deserve a part of this medal, from my family to current and former team-mates, all the women of the U.S. Women’s National Team throughout our history, to Colin Kaepernick, the three woman who founded Black Lives Matter – Opal, Alicia and Patrisse – to Marsha P, Sylvia and Billie Jean, the Williams sisters, of course my fiance Sue Bird, and so many more.
“I am humbled and truly honoured to be chosen for this award by President Biden and feel as inspired and motivated as ever to continue this long history of fighting for the freedoms of all people. To quote Emma Lazarus, ‘Until we are all free, we are none of us free.’”
The 36-year-old Rapinoe is currently mid-season with OL Reign in the National Women’s Soccer League.
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