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Megan Rapinoe announces plans to retire after World Cup and NWSL season

SCOTT DETROW, HOST:

One of the biggest names in soccer is calling it a career.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: Rapinoe gets a cross in. (Inaudible)...

DETROW: Megan Rapinoe announced today she'll be hanging up her cleats after the upcoming World Cup and the national women's soccer season concludes.

MEGAN RAPINOE: I just want to be able to soak in every moment and, you know, share it with teammates and friends and family and share it with the rest of the world.

DETROW: If you only ever looked at what she did on the pitch, Rapinoe would have been a global star. But what really elevated her is what she did elsewhere. Rapinoe used her platform to advocate for gay rights, pay equity and racial justice. Last year, I stood in the White House East Room covering a ceremony where President Biden draped the Presidential Medal of Freedom around Rapinoe's neck.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Beyond the World Cup titles and Olympic medals, Megan is a champion for essential American truth - that everyone, everyone is entitled to be treated with dignity and respect. Everyone.

DETROW: Rapinoe was often ahead of her peers in taking those stands. Back in 2012, she spoke to NPR about her decision to publicly come out as gay before that year's Summer Games.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

RAPINOE: I think just being authentic and being proud of who I am, I think, just felt good, I guess. It just felt like it was the right time. And not that I ever, you know, hid anything or lied about anything, but now that it's out, we can start talking about it and start breaking down these barriers that are keeping, really, homosexuals from having full rights.

DETROW: Later this month in Australia and New Zealand, Rapinoe and her teammates will try for their third straight World Cup victory. Their first match is June 21 against Vietnam.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIG PUNISHER SONG, "STILL NOT A PLAYER (FEAT. JOE)") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.