Megan Rapinoe is having fun with the whirlwind of a two-time World Cup winner.

She picked up the FIFA Player of the Year award in Milan rocking a deeper shade of lavender hair, despatched off retiring U.S. coach Jill Ellis with an undefeated victory tour and saved up the fight for pay fairness in opposition to the U.S. Soccer Federation.

“It’s very surreal to say the least,” Rapinoe mentioned. “Downtime? When I sleep, that’s my only rest time. It’s mostly good stuff, so hard to complain.”

Julie Foudy, a World Cup champion with the U.S. in 1991 and ’99, calls Rapinoe the “golden girl.” She received the FIFA Golden Boot and the Golden Ball for many objectives and greatest participant, respectively, after the U.S. beat the Netherlands 2-Zero in July on the World Cup in France.

Now she’s the winner of the Women’s Sports Foundation’s Sportswoman of the Year award, introduced on the 40th annual occasion hosted by Billie Jean King on Wednesday night time.

“They’re such a force in women’s sports and beyond,” Rapinoe mentioned in a cellphone interview with The Associated Press.

Rapinoe and her teammates have been feted with a ticker-tape parade in New York after their World Cup victory. She shared the identical float with U.S. Soccer Federation President Carlos Cordeiro, basking within the chants of “USA” and “Equal Pay.” The U.S. ladies’s crew sued the federation in March for gender and pay discrimination.

At the post-parade celebration at City Hall, Cordeiro mentioned, “We believe at U.S. Soccer that all female athletes deserve fair and equitable pay.” However, to this point the 2 sides have not reached an settlement, with a May 5 trial date set in federal court docket in Los Angeles.

Rapinoe says there is a “major discrepancy” in pay for conducting the identical success on the sector in comparison with the U.S. males’s crew. The 34-year-old mentioned she will be able to’t perceive why feminine athletes should fight their soccer federation so exhausting for pay and advantages.

“I guess other than just not believing that we deserve it or not willing to pay,” she mentioned. “I think it’s really counterintuitive, you have two really amazing products in both the men’s and women’s teams that are both very successful by a lot of different metrics. It’s a huge growing business. Soccer in general is growing exponentially in the country, so why not be able to leverage your best assets instead of fighting them all the time?”

U.S. Soccer has maintained that compensation for every crew is the results of separate collective bargaining agreements and the pay constructions are totally different in consequence. The federation has additionally mentioned the lads generate extra income than the ladies.

However, that argument has been debated by the ladies’s authorized representatives, given the ladies’s two consecutive World Cup titles and the income generated from each victory excursions.

The U.S. capped its newest victory tour with a 1-1 tie in opposition to South Korea earlier than a crowd of 33,027 at Soldier Field on Oct. 6. Rapinoe lofted an ideal cross on a nook kick to Carli Lloyd, whose header tied the match.

Rapinoe mentioned it is 50-50 on a settlement earlier than the trial date.

“I think it would probably be in everyone’s best interests not to drag this thing out or drag it through court, but that’s really up to them,” she mentioned. “We deserve what is fair and right under the law.”

Rapinoe acquired the FIFA participant of the yr award in Milan final month however did not get an opportunity to speak with FIFA President Gianni Infantino about one other pay hole — the U.S. ladies’s crew acquired $four million for successful the World Cup whereas the French males’s crew acquired $38 million in 2018.

Infantino has mentioned FIFA’s complete prize cash for the collaborating ladies’s groups will double from $30 million to $60 million on the 2023 World Cup. The males’s groups acquired $400 million in complete prize cash in 2018.

King is aware of one thing a couple of pay fight. She threatened a boycott of the 1973 U.S. Open, reaching an settlement with an organization to pay the distinction earlier than tennis leaders provided equal pay to the winners.

“They’d be heroes if they did it,” King mentioned of the U.S. Soccer management. “It’s the right thing to do, right side of history.”

On Sunday, Rapinoe will probably be aiming for an additional title when her membership crew, Reign FC, faces defending champion North Carolina in a National Women’s Soccer League semifinal. The ultimate is Oct. 27.

The subsequent match for the U.S. crew is an exhibition in opposition to Sweden on Nov. 7 in Columbus, Ohio. New U.S. basic supervisor Kate Markgraf, a former nationwide participant, desires to rent a alternative for Ellis by then. Rapinoe’s Reign coach Vlatko Andonovski is among the many candidates.

Rapinoe believes ladies’s sports activities are “in a different place” since Mia Hamm, Michelle Akers and Foudy fought comparable pay points 20 years in the past.

The WNBA gamers’ union and the WNBA, the place Rapinoe’s companion Sue Bird is a star for the Seattle Storm, are negotiating a brand new collective bargaining settlement to enhance wages. The U.S. ladies’s hockey crew threatened a boycott of the 2017 World Championships to leverage higher salaries and advantages.

“This is the age-old tale,” Rapinoe mentioned. “The powerful have always kept a lot of the benefits of that power for themselves. With women in particular, you have the Me Too movement, Times Up. A lot of sports leagues — yeah, people are sick of it. I think women in general just feel really empowered in this moment.”

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