SAN JOSE — Megan Rapinoe, her silvery hair streaked with hues of blue, let out a half-laugh when asked if she wanted to run for office.
Rapinoe, the world soccer player of the year who has knelt in support of former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and had a public spat last summer with President Donald Trump, sounded like a politician in response.
“At this time, I don’t have any plans of running for office; that seems out of the question,” she said in an interview this week in San Jose at the Watermark Conference for Women Silicon Valley.
Then came the teaser: “Never say never.”
For now, Rapinoe’s attention is on the Tokyo Games that begin July 22 for soccer. Rapinoe, 34, hopes to make her third Olympic team as the United States seeks to become the first country to win a women’s soccer gold medal the year after winning the World Cup.
Barring injury, Rapinoe is expected to make the 18-player U.S. roster. She hopes to be in Japan with her partner, Sue Bird, the U.S. basketball star who will be seeking to win a fifth Olympic gold medal.
Rapinoe, who received a legion of awards in 2019 that she could not have fathomed growing up in the rural, oak-lined countryside east of Redding, has catapulted into the public consciousness since helping the U.S. win the World Cup last summer in France.
It heated up when Rapinoe told a reporter, “I’m not going to the f…ing White House” if the team won the world championship.
Trump tweeted: “Megan should WIN before she TALKS.”
Then Bird wrote an essay in the Players Tribune titled “So the President F*cking Hates My Girlfriend.” In it, Bird wrote, “Like, dude, there’s nothing better demanding your attention??”
All of it brought attention to Rapinoe, who in July won the Golden Ball as the World Cup’s most valuable player and the Golden Boot trophy for being the tournament’s leading scorer with six goals.
Rapinoe also was named the Best FIFA Women’s Player of the Year, the prestigious France Football Ballon d’Or and the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year.
Rapinoe and teammates filed a gender discrimination lawsuit in U.S. court in Los Angeles before the World Cup against the U.S. Soccer Federation. Rapinoe said the case, involving pay equity and other disparities between the men’s and women’s national teams, is headed to court in May.
“We’re always willing to listen to an offer that is serious,” Rapinoe told an audience of thousands at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center.
Rapinoe, a goal-scoring midfielder, has been balancing training for the U.S. team with an expanded national role to address issues involving gender equity, pay equity, LGBTQ rights and racism.
“If we’re doing what we’re supposed to do on the field we can talk as much as we want off the field,” she told the Watermark audience.
U.S. Soccer star Megan Rapinoe has become an activist athlete. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)
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Source:: The Mercury News – Sports