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Soccer star Megan Rapinoe announces she’ll retire at end of NWSL season

“This is gonna be my last season, my last world cup and my last NWSL season,” Rapinoe said at a news briefing Saturday.
/ Source: NBC News

American soccer star Megan Rapinoe announced her plans to retire at the end of the current NWSL season on Saturday.

“This is gonna be my last season, my last world cup and my last NWSL season,” Rapinoe, 38, said at a news briefing. “Obviously there’ll be more to come further down, down the road after hopefully we get done what we want to get done, but I just want to say thank you to everybody, to you guys, to Vlatko, to U.S. soccer to, you know, literally everyone that I’ve played with, all of my coaches.”

The U.S. women’s soccer team star said she felt “honored to be able to have represented this country and this federation for so many years.”

“It’s truly been the greatest thing that I’ve ever done, something I’m so grateful for,” she said.

Rapinoe confirmed the news on her Twitter account, coupled with a picture of her as a little girl.

“It is with a deep sense of peace & gratitude that I have decided this will be my final season playing this beautiful game,” she wrote. “I never could have imagined the ways in which soccer would shape & change my life forever, but by the look on this little girl’s face, she knew all along.”

Rapinoe has been a member of the U.S. Women’s National Team since 2006 and has helped the team win two Olympic medals and two World Cup championships. Off the field, she has made a name for herself for her contribution to LGBTQ equality and equality in women’s sports.

In 2016, Rapinoe and four other U.S. Women’s National Team players filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint against the U.S. Soccer Federation, alleging gender discrimination. Then in 2019, 28 members of the team, including Rapinoe, filed a similar lawsuit, citing years of gender discrimination in pay, medical treatment and overall workload.

The group of five players reached a settlement with the U.S. Soccer Federation in February, receiving $24 million and securing an agreement from the federation to pay men and women equally in all exhibition games, or friendlies, and tournaments.

“For us, this is just a huge win in ensuring that we not only right the wrongs of the past, but set the next generation up for something we only dreamed of,” Rapinoe told TODAY after the settlement was reached.

In 2022, she was among the 17 recipients to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. Rapinoe is the first soccer player to receive the award and one of just six female athletes or coaches.

“I am humbled and truly honored 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,” Rapinoe said in a statement after being named a medal recipient. “To quote Emma Lazarus, ‘Until we are all free, we are none of us free.’”

Rapinoe’s partner, Seattle Storm star and five-time Olympic gold medalist Sue Bird, also announced her retirement just last year.

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