Soccer-Rapinoe retires from soccer with no regrets on activism

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023 - Round of 16 - Sweden v United States - Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, Melbourne, Australia - August 6, 2023 Megan Rapinoe of the U.S. during the match REUTERS/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/File Photo

(Reuters) - Megan Rapinoe will bid farewell to international football with no regrets about her time on and off the pitch, she told a news conference on Saturday ahead of her last game on Sunday, highlighting her support of social causes throughout her career.

The striker, who earned recognition not only for being a two-time world champion but also for her activism, gained fame for her advocacy of LGBT+ rights, solidarity with NFL player Colin Kaepernick and famously confronting former U.S. President Donald Trump.

"The off-field stuff is what is most meaningful (to me) and I think what I'm most proud of leaving this team and leaving the game," she said.

"Being so vocal about racial justice or gay rights, I feel like the team really stepped into it and took upon itself to be so much more of what we were on the field and really focus on that."

"We've been a very special generation of players, but I think it says a lot about us that everything we've accomplished on the field pales in comparison to what we've done off the field."

Although the 38-year-old player will say goodbye to the U.S. national team on Sunday when they face South Africa in a friendly, she shows no signs of retiring from public life after a career spent championing social causes.

"I'm very excited to continue to be a part of the growth of women's sport, not just football. I think we are at a very special time. I want to use my platform and my leverage, but now I'll have more time to do that."

The Olympic champion was enthusiastic about the future of the national squad, the potential of the new generation and the growth of the team's culture as part of her activism legacy.

She highlighted players Naomi Girma, Trinity Rodman and Sophia Smith, particularly Girma's focus on mental health advocacy.

Rapinoe will play her final NWSL regular season game with the OL Reign on Oct. 6 against the Washington Spirit in Seattle.

(Reporting by Angelica Medina in Mexico City; Editing by Josie Kao)

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