Megan Rapinoe does not understand why speculation she could join Barcelona spread like "wildfire", but she is open to offers.

The World Cup winner suggested in a recent interview with beIN SPORTS that she would like to play in Spain by the end of her career.

Barcelona board member Maria Teixidor indicated Rapinoe was an option for the club but indicated her wage demands could make a move difficult.

Reign FC star Rapinoe, however, appeared to row back on her earlier comments after playing for the United States in a 2-0 defeat of South Korea. 

"I was like, 'what did I say?', I don't remember saying that, but who knows because sometimes I say stuff," Rapinoe told reporters.

"I was like, 'did I say I was going there?', I just thought I was open to all offers as always. I'll entertain anything that has dollar signs next to it.

"It is interesting though. It's cool to see all of these teams jumping in and seeing that interest, if there is interest, to see it from foreign teams about players.

"Hopefully, that becomes more normal, with interest in players coming over to our league and vice-versa. It's going to be hard to lure us away from the travelling circus that we all partake in."

Rapinoe, though, said her family were keen on a potential move to Spain.

She added: "My mom and dad were already like, 'here we are over wine, living out our pipe dream in Barcelona for a year', and I was like 'what? What are we talking about?'.

"But I don't know. It might be nice, that two-bedroom apartment."

Rapinoe won both the Golden Ball and the Golden Boot as Jill Ellis' USA side defended their World Cup crown earlier this year, then she collected the Best FIFA Women's Player award last month.

Could Massimiliano Allegri be the man to rescue AC Milan?

Marco Giampaolo is under increasing pressure at San Siro after Milan slumped to a fourth defeat in their first six games of the Serie A season.

Allegri led Milan to their last league title in 2010-11 and, now unemployed, he shapes as being a target for the club once more.

 

TOP STORY – MILAN EYE ALLEGRI

Allegri is one of the favourites and the choice of many of AC Milan's leaders to be their next head coach, according to Calciomercato.

The 52-year-old spent three and a half years at Milan before taking over at Juventus, where he won five Serie A titles.

Allegri could be set for a return to Milan, who are struggling in 16th in the table, just one point clear of the relegation zone.

ROUND-UP

Ansu Fati has made an impression with Barcelona early in the season and he could be set for bigger and better things. Cadena SER says the 16-year-old will be included in the pre-list for Spain's Euro 2020 qualifiers against Norway and Sweden in October.

- Staying in Spain, Real Madrid are considering a move for United States star Megan Rapinoe, according to AS. Set to have a women's team starting next year, Madrid are considering trying to sign the Reign FC attacker.

Inter coach Antonio Conte wants to sign Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic, reports Calciomercato. Matic – who is out of contract at the end of the season – has struggled to establish himself in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side this season amid links to Juventus.

- Tuttosport claims Juve will offer out-of-favour midfielder Emre Can to Paris Saint-Germain in exchange for full-back Thomas Meunier.

- With Genoa struggling in the relegation zone, Aurelio Andreazzoli is also under pressure. Sky Sport says the Serie A side made contact with former Milan boss Gennaro Gattuso after being thrashed 4-0 by Lazio.

- Arsenal still want to see Mesut Ozil make a move. The Sun reports the Premier League club want to send the playmaker out on loan and would even contribute to his wages to make a move happen.

- Desperately needing to add to their attack, United are weighing up a move for Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic in January, according to the Mirror. United were heavily linked with the Croatian during the close season.

Megan Rapinoe called on her fellow professional footballers to make the most of a "unique" opportunity to "change this world forever" during her acceptance speech at The Best FIFA Awards.

After collecting the women's individual honour at the ceremony in Milan on Monday, Rapinoe used the platform to speak out about some of the notable issues in the modern game.

The United States international declared how she had been inspired by Raheem Sterling and Kalidou Koulibaly after the pair stood up to incidents of racism, as well as referencing other events that have highlighted the homophobia and inequalities that still exist within football.

Rapinoe finished by calling on those in attendance, as well as those watching on, to capitalise on the platform provided by the sport to make a difference for the future.

"Some of the stories that have inspired me the most this year: Raheem Sterling and Koulibaly, their incredible performances on the field but the way that they have taken on the disgusting racism that they have had to face this year, but probably throughout their whole lives," the 34-year-old said.

"The young Iranian woman who eventually set herself on fire because she was not able to go to the game, the one 'out' MLS player and the countless other 'out' LGBTQ female players who fight so hard not just to play the sport that they love but also to fight the rampant homophobia that we have.

"Those were all the stories that inspired me so much, but they also made me a little bit sad and a bit disappointed.

"I feel like that if we really want to have meaningful change, what I think is most inspiring is if everyone other than Raheem Sterling and Koulibaly, if they were so outraged about racism as they were.

"If everybody else was that outraged as the LGBTQ players, if everybody was outraged by the equal pay, or lack there of, or the lack of investment in the women's game, that would be the most inspiring thing to me.

"We have such an incredible opportunity being professional football players, so much success – financial and otherwise – we have incredible platforms. I ask everyone here to lend your platform to other people, lift them up and share your success.

"We have a unique opportunity in football, different to any other sport in the world, to use this beautiful game to change this world forever.

"I hope you take that to heart, do something, anything. We have incredible power in this room."

Rapinoe secured The Best award for the first time in her career, edging out fellow nominees Alex Morgan and Lucy Bronze after winning the Golden Boot and Golden Ball at the Women's World Cup in France.

Megan Rapinoe has won The Best FIFA Women's Player award for the first time in her career, securing the prize ahead of fellow finalists Lucy Bronze and Alex Morgan.

Rapinoe receives the individual honour after playing a starring role in the United States’ triumph at the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

The 34-year-old scooped the Golden Boot after scoring six goals, while she was also lifted the Golden Ball after being judged the best player at the tournament.

Morgan also finished with the same number of goals in France, though missed out on the scoring crown by virtue of playing more minutes than her compatriot.

The 30-year-old striker – who has surpassed a century of goals in her illustrious international career – was the only one of the trio to previously be nominated, finishing third in 2012.

Meanwhile, the coach's award went to Jill Ellis, who made history at the Women’s World Cup.

The USA boss became the first coach to win the tournament for a second time, having also led them to glory in the 2015 edition in Canada.

Bronze, meanwhile, was a key member of the England squad that reached the last four, following on from an outstanding season for Lyon that included helping the French club lift the Women’s Champions League for a fourth successive season.

Rapinoe and Morgan were joined by compatriots Kelley O'Hara, Rose Lavelle and Julie Ertz in the FIFA FIFPro Women's World11.

As well as Bronze, there were also places for Brazil legend Marta, Netherlands goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal, Sweden's Nilla Fischer and France duo Wendie Renard and Amandine Henry.

 

FIFA FIFPro Women's World11: Sari van Veenendaal, Lucy Bronze, Nilla Fischer, Kelley O’Hara, Wendie Renard, Julie Ertz, Amandine Henry, Rose Lavelle, Marta, Alex Morgan

United States stars Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan will battle England international Lucy Bronze for The Best FIFA Women's Player award after nine names were trimmed from the original shortlist.

Lyon right-back Bronze was named UEFA Women's Player of the Year last week but faces stiff competition from Rapinoe and Morgan to claim the global accolade.

Rapinoe, 34, looks to be the frontrunner after spearheading her country to Women's World Cup glory earlier this year.

The winger scooped the Golden Boot with six goals from five games and completed a triumphant individual double by claiming the Golden Ball.

Team-mate Morgan netted the same number of goals in France, including the winner in the 2-1 semi-final defeat of England, and only missed out on the goalscoring crown by virtue of playing more minutes than Rapinoe.

Bronze's hopes could hinge on a strong club campaign as she helped Lyon to the treble, although two of the previous three winners - Carli Lloyd and Marta - have been based in the NWSL in America.

Similar battle lines have been drawn for the title of The Best FIFA Women's Coach, with England manager Phil Neville in contention against Jill Ellis, who has won back-to-back World Cups with USA.

Netherlands boss Sarina Wiegman is the other contender after leading her country to the World Cup final.

Christiane Endler, Hedvig Lindahl and Sari van Veenendaal are the finalists for the goalkeeper's gong.

All award winners will be announced at a ceremony in Milan on September 23.

Frank de Boer has backtracked on his equal pay comment after he said it was "ridiculous" the United States women's national team expect to be paid the same as their male counterparts.

Women's World Cup winners USA, who beat Netherlands in last month's final, continue to be embroiled in a battle for equal pay with U.S. Soccer.

Atlanta United coach De Boer said he is a champion of women's soccer and indicated he regrets his choice of words during an interview with the Guardian.

“I think for me, it’s ridiculous. It's the same like tennis," De Boer said to the newspaper. "If there are watching, for the World Cup final, 500 million people or something like that, and 100 million for a women's final, that's a difference. So it's not the same.

"And of course, they have to be paid what they deserve to and not less, just what they really deserve. If it's just as popular as the men, they will get it, because the income and the advertising will go into that.

"But it's not like that, so why do they have to earn the same? I think it's ridiculous. I don't understand that."

De Boer, however, has now clarified his comments.

"Especially the word ridiculous," he said. "It's a hard word if I read that word only. If you see the whole context, I was very clear that I always promote women's soccer."

USA star Megan Rapinoe has been one of the most vocal athletes to speak out against the pay disparity, using her platform after USA defended their World Cup title.

Talks between players and governing body U.S. Soccer have broken down, with Rapinoe indicating she will continue fighting for equal pay.

"They're the only employer that we could have playing for the national team, we're the only employees that they could have, so for better or for worse we're tethered together," she told ABC's Good Morning America on Thursday.

"I think that if and when and ever they are willing to have a conversation about equal pay that starts there and goes forward, we're always open to that."

United States star Megan Rapinoe and three of her international team-mates are among 12 nominees for the Best FIFA Women's Player Award for 2019.

A first-time recipient will be named in Milan on September 23 after former winners Marta, Lieke Martens and Carli Lloyd all failed to make the shortlist.

Reign FC forward Rapinoe shapes as a strong contender after inspiring USA to glory at the Women's World Cup in France.

The 34-year-old scored six goals in five games, including one in the 2-0 victory over Netherlands in the final, to claim a Golden Ball-Golden Boot double.

Rapinoe's compatriots Alex Morgan, Rose Lavelle and Julie Ertz are also in contention, as are England pair Ellen White and Lucy Bronze, who claimed the Silver Ball.

Right-back Bronze and striker Ada Hegerberg, last year's inaugural Women's Ballon d'Or winner, feature among four players from the Lyon side that won the Women's Champions League.

The list of contenders has been expanded to 12 from the usual 10 due to a tie in the number of votes received by some nominees.

 

The Best FIFA Women's Player nominees:

Lucy Bronze (Lyon & England)
Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars & United States)
Caroline Graham Hansen (Barcelona & Norway)
Ada Hegerberg (Lyon)
Amandine Henry (Lyon & France)
Sam Kerr (Chicago Red Stars & Australia)
Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit & United States)
Vivianne Miedema (Arsenal & Netherlands)
Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride & United States)
Megan Rapinoe (Reign FC & United States)
Wendie Renard (Lyon & France)
Ellen White (Manchester City & England)

United States forward Megan Rapinoe has echoed Serena Williams' comments on equal pay amid the Women's World Cup winners' ongoing fight for parity with the men's team.

Rapinoe scored the opening goal as USA beat Netherlands 2-0 in the World Cup final to retain their title during a tournament where the 34-year-old became a global icon.

The attacker also had a war of words with US president Donald Trump during the tournament in France after saying she was "not going to the f****** White House".

American players have been embroiled in an argument over equal pay with governing body U.S. Soccer for many years.

After losing the Wimbledon final to Simona Halep on Saturday, tennis great Williams bristled at a suggestion she should scale back her efforts to fight equal pay in order to concentrate on matching Margaret Court's record of 24 grand slam singles titles.

And Rapinoe, speaking in an interview on NBC on Sunday, backed her fellow American and insisted she will also not be changing her outspoken approach.

"You know what? I'm gonna fight for equal pay every day, for myself, for my team, and for every single person out there," said Rapinoe.

"Man, woman, immigrant, US citizen, person of colour, whatever it may be. 'Equal pay,' as the great Serena Williams said, 'til I'm in my grave'."

Rapinoe, whose partner is basketball player Sue Bird, also defended her previous comments on Trump when asked what she would say to her fans who support the president and believe she should go to the White House.

She added: "I would try to share our message. Do you believe that all people are created equal? Do you believe that equal pay should be mandated?

"Do you believe that everyone should have health care? Do you believe that we should treat everyone with respect? Those are the basics of what we're talking about.

"I understand people feel upset or uncomfortable. There's feelings of disrespect about the anthem protest or things that I've said in the past. Ultimately, I am here, open and honest.

"I've admitted mistakes. I will continue to do that. I'll continue to be vulnerable and be honest and open and have that conversation."

Megan Rapinoe hailed her United States team-mates as an example for the country to follow but told a huge crowd celebrating their Women's World Cup triumph that she will not be running for president, saying: "I'm busy."

During the victory parade through New York, the 34-year-old forward stoked the fire of her spat with president Donald Trump, which began during the tournament when she said that she and her colleagues would not be going to the White House if they lifted the trophy.

Having helped defend the title on French soil, Rapinoe reiterated her stance when it comes to visiting the president - a job she cheekily rejected was in her future plans.

"I couldn’t be more proud to be a co-captain of this team with Carli [Lloyd] and Alex [Morgan]," she said. "It's an absolute honour to lead this team out on the field.

"There's no other place I would rather be. Even in a presidential race. I'm busy, I'm sorry."

Trump had previously addressed Rapinoe's comments on Twitter, calling on the player to "WIN first before she TALKS!" in a post.

Having risen to the challenge, Rapinoe resisted the temptation to fire back at Trump but offered no apology. She did, however, call for everyone to come together and make the world a "better place".

"There has been so much contention in these last years. I've been a victim of that, I've been a perpetrator of that," she said.

"We had a fight with the federation – I'm sorry for some of the things I said. Not all of the things.

"We have to be better. We have to love more, hate less. We have to listen more, talk less. We have to know that it is everyone's responsibility. It's our responsibility to make this world a better place.

"I think this team does an incredible job of taking that on our shoulders and understanding the position we have and the platform we have in this world. It's time to come together. We have to collaborate. My charge to everybody - do what you can.

"If this team is any representation of what you can be when you do that, please take this as an example. This group is incredible. Yes we play sports, yes we play soccer, yes we're female athletes, but we're so much more than that."

The United States have been told they risk losing their status as the best team in women's football if the "starvation wages" in their domestic league are not addressed.

USA won a fourth Women's World Cup title in Lyon on Sunday, retaining the trophy with a 2-0 victory over Netherlands after knocking out European heavyweights France and England in the previous two rounds.

Megan Rapinoe, the tournament's Golden Boot and Golden Ball winner, once again spoke about the disparity in prize money between the women's and men's finals afterwards, with USA's players taking home $4million compared to the $38m France accrued for winning the men's World Cup in Russia last year.

There is also a huge gap between the top domestic leagues in America, where the minimum and maximum salaries for this NWSL season are $16,538 and $46,200 respectively, compared to the minimum in MLS of $56,250 and the maximum, which will be paid to LA Galaxy star Zlatan Ibrahimovic, of $7.2m.

Each of the 23 players in Jill Ellis' World Cup-winning squad ply their trade in NWSL - though their salaries are subsidised by the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) and include payments for their international feats - and former USA coach Anson Dorrance wants greater investment at the professional level.

Dorrance, who led USA to their maiden World Cup triumph in 1991 and coached the likes of Crystal Dunn and Tobin Heath at the collegiate level in his current role at North Carolina, told Omnisport: "An entry-level professional is paid $16,500 a year in the NWSL. That's starvation wages. 

"I would love to see more and more women start to make the sort of money we're seeing on the men's side."

While USA were able to see off the challenge of the Europeans this time, the other seven World Cup quarter-finalists all came from the continent and the balance of power may have shifted by 2023.

There has been increased investment in the women's game in Europe in recent years, major clubs like Lyon, Barcelona, Juventus and Manchester City all significantly backing their women's teams.

"We're going to be in trouble if we don't create a league that competes with what the Europeans are doing now," added Shannon Higgins-Cirovski, who was a key member of the World Cup-winning team in 1991.

"Hats off to us at this point, [but] I'm hoping we can create something from this momentum and make it so we don't have to worry about that."

Rapinoe said after USA's win on Sunday that FIFA president Gianni Infantino, who had revealed plans to double the prize money for the next Women's World Cup, wants to speak to her about the financial matters after fans chanted "equal pay" at the final.

There will also be conversations between USSF and Ellis' players over the pay gap between USA's men's and women's teams, with the newly crowned World Cup winners having instigated legal action against the federation earlier this year for alleged gender discrimination over earnings and working conditions.

Dorrance wants to see equality, but also greater transparency over the revenue generated by the two teams given reports suggest the women bring in more than their male counterparts.

"[The USFF should] have a very transparent set of accounting books to show exactly what happens," Dorrance added.

"This is how many people watched this Women's World Cup game in the United States, here were the sponsorship dollars and here's how we're going to reward our women that have just won the event. I would love for that to become clearer.

"In terms of per diem, there should be no difference, those should be the same, then your rewards should be based on what you make.

"I don't think all of a sudden these women should be paid the amount of money Christian Pulisic is paid [by Chelsea] because of the crowd he's played in front of at Borussia Dortmund and what he will play in front of at Chelsea.

"But I would love for it to be transparent and for them to be paid what they're worth."

Donald Trump tweeted his congratulations to the United States for their Women's World Cup triumph on Sunday, but whether he hosts the team at the White House remains to be seen.

USA defeated Netherlands 2-0 to make it back-to-back titles on the global stage, with Megan Rapinoe and Rose Lavelle scoring the goals in the second half.

Shortly after the final whistle, USA president Trump wrote on Twitter: "Congratulations to the U.S. Women's Soccer Team on winning the World Cup! Great and exciting play. America is proud of you all!"

Trump has been outspoken during USA's run in France as he went on a Twitter rant after a video surfaced of Rapinoe making it clear she would not visit the White House should her side end up as champions.

He also called out the 34-year-old, who ended the tournament as winner of the Golden Boot for top goalscorer and Golden Ball for best player, for protesting during the national anthem by refusing to sing or put her hand over her chest. 

He wrote, in part: "Megan should never disrespect our country, the White House, or our flag, especially since so much has been done for her and the team."

There remain questions as to whether the national team will attend the White House if they receive an invite, but head coach Jill Ellis is not convinced any such offer will be made.

When asked if she would attend a celebration at the White House, she said: "I haven't been invited yet." The reporter responded by saying: "I'm sure you will." Ellis, however, said with a laugh: "Well, I wouldn't bet on that."

Megan Rapinoe wants action on the issue of equal pay after helping the United States to a fourth Women's World Cup final triumph.

USA beat Netherlands 2-0 in Lyon on Sunday to retain their title, Rapinoe scoring a second-half penalty before Rose Lavelle found the net too.

At the next World Cup in 2023, FIFA president Gianni Infantino wishes to double the prize money to $60million, yet at the men's competition in 2022, teams in Qatar will have a pot of $440m.

Rapinoe, who spoke at length on the issue prior to Sunday's final, revisited the matter again having collected her Golden Boot and Golden Ball awards for the tournament's top scorer and best player.

She also called for action from the US Soccer Federation (USFF), with the players in Jill Ellis' team having taken legal action against the governing body earlier this year over pay disparity.and working conditions.

"Everyone's asking what's next and what we want to come all of this – it's to stop having the conversation about equal pay and are we worth it," Rapinoe said.

"What are we going to do about it? Gianni, what are we going to do about it? Carlos [Cordeiro, USFF president], what are we going to do about it? Everyone. It's time to sit down with everyone and really get to work.

"This game has done so much for all of us, we've put so much into it. I think it's a testament to the quality on the field.

"I don't think everything else is matching that. How we do get everything to match up and push this forward because I think at this point the argument that we have been having is totally null and void."

She added in the post-match press conference: "It's time to move that conversation forward to the next step. A little public shame never hurt anybody, right?"

Rapinoe, who scored six times in France, was presented with both of her individual prizes by Infantino on the pitch after the game.

Asked what they spoke about, she replied: "Just pleasantries. There was a wry smile in there, for sure. He knows that I know.

"I think he did say, 'Let's have a conversation'. I said, 'I'd love to'."

Infantino would also have heard fans in the stadium chanting 'equal pay' while he was on the pitch.

Rapinoe and her USA team-mates will share a pot of $4m for winning the tournament, with France's men's squad earning $38m for triumphing in Russia last year.

"Love it," Rapinoe said of the chants.

"To have a full stadium in a foreign country, the movement is just swelling before our very eyes.

"Obviously you have the president of France there [Emmanuel Macron], the president of FIFA, you have our [USFF] president, delegates from all over the world.

"This is what the people want, give the people what they want, always."

Megan Rapinoe was awarded the Golden Boot and Golden Ball after inspiring the United States to Women's World Cup glory.

The 34-year-old opened the scoring from the penalty spot as USA defeated Netherlands 2-0 in Lyon on Sunday to claim back-to-back global titles.

She finished level on six goals with team-mate Alex Morgan and England forward Ellen White but edged the Golden Boot by virtue of a better minutes-per-goal ratio.

It marked Rapinoe's first Golden Boot in her third World Cup appearance and she could not describe the feeling after the match.

"I don't know how to feel right now, it's ridiculous," she said.

Rapinoe started with one goal in the group stage and followed it up with back-to-back braces, scoring all four of USA's goals in the knockout phase before the semi-final, for which she was an unused substitute. 

She was also crowned the tournament's best player for her performances, with England's Lucy Bronze taking the Silver Ball and Rose Lavelle, who scored USA's second in the final, claiming third.

Megan Rapinoe dubbed her United States team-mates "crazy" and "special" after she scored the opening goal in their 2-0 Women's World Cup final victory over Netherlands.

The 34-year-old Reign FC forward scored a 61st-minute penalty to put Jill Ellis' side ahead against a resilient Netherlands team before Rose Lavelle lit up the game with a virtuoso goal eight minutes later.

The result helped USA triumph for the fourth time on the biggest stage of the women's game and Rapinoe, who was part of the team that won the tournament in 2015, paid tribute to the spirit in the camp.

"I don't think I can [describe it]," the forward told BBC Sport. "It's unbelievable.

"Just to know all the people in our group who put in so much work, obviously the players, we have all our friends and family here.

"It's surreal. I don't know how to feel right now. It's ridiculous.

"We're crazy, that's what makes us special. We've got no quit in us, we're so tight and we'll do anything to win."

Lavelle's goal was her third of the tournament and Rapinoe praised the 24-year-old midfielder's creativity as being pivotal to USA's success, while highlighting her performance in the final as her best.

"That was what she's been missing, just that little bit, all tournament," said Rapinoe.

"She's been on the dribble, opening up everything for us. For her to get that reward on the biggest stage you possibly can, I'm so proud of her.

"She's a superstar, not even in the making - she's a straight-up superstar."

USA coach Jill Ellis pointed to her players' "fantastic resilience and chemistry" in her summing up of a moment she admitted left her lost for words.

Ellis previously led the USA to glory in the 2014 CONCACAF Women's Championship and the 2015 World Cup, and she said of her current squad: "They put their hearts and souls into this journey and I can't thank them enough. It has been fantastic.

"I could barely speak but I just said to them they were unbelievable, congratulations, they made history, enjoy it.

"This is unbelievable, I've got no words."

The most powerful man in the world urged her to speak only after she had finished the job, but on Sunday Megan Rapinoe became a Women's World Cup winner again having done it her way.

Jill Ellis' United States side beat Netherlands 2-0 in the final to become the first American team to retain the trophy and, naturally, it was Rapinoe, the most prominent figure at the tournament, who was front and centre.

USA were held at bay for over an hour against a robust Dutch team. Goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal was outstanding, brilliantly thwarting Julie Ertz, Sam Mewis and Alex Morgan - twice - in the first half.

But when Stefanie van der Gragt's studs caught Morgan's side, USA were awarded a penalty following a VAR review. Rapinoe had the chance to alleviate the tension and put her country on course for that winning part US President Donald Trump placed as a feeble pre-requisite for holding an opinion.

And so, in the 61st minute, Rapinoe stepped up and, with unnerving coolness, finally beat Van Veenendaal.

She ran over to the corner and delivered her signature 'Are You Not Entertained?' pose. It will be the defining image of this World Cup, which, despite the Europeans' emergence, remains in American hands after Rose Lavelle added a brilliant second eight minutes after Rapinoe's penalty.

It seems fitting that the United States ended up winning a tournament where the question, for once, has not been, 'How do we get people interested in women's football?' but, 'How do we build on it?'

USA are, after all, at the forefront of that push, with players such as Rapinoe driving the agenda on numerous issues, from LGBT rights to racial equality, while attracting audiences most other nations can only dream of.

On Saturday Rapinoe said "so much of what we have to shoulder all of the time is heavy", explaining that the football pitch gave USA players a chance to "be free", which is something not all who protest are afforded.

Colin Kaepernick, the NFL quarterback who took his team to the Super Bowl but has been out of the league for three years having knelt during the American anthem, never got another chance to "win first before he talks".

Tommie Smith and John Carlos, the two sprinters who raised their fists on the podium at the 1968 Olympics, were ostracised upon their returns to America despite winning first and then talking.

Rapinoe knew all of that and yet, admirably, she still spoke up for what she believed in. She saw the president tell her to button up on Twitter and responded with three goals her next two games on the biggest stage.

The 34-year-old did plenty of talking in France and had the final word in Lyon, finishing the job - as always - on her own terms.

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