It's been a monumental year for Megan Rapinoe, but the American soccer star laments a lack of sponsors and marketing for the championship U.S. women's national soccer team as they brace for an equal-pay battle with their governing body.
It's been a monumental year for Megan Rapinoe, the American soccer star whose personality is about as colorful as her hair.
As the top goal-scorer and MVP of this year's women's World Cup tournament, she led Team USA to its second consecutive championship.
Her victory lap was adorned with magazine covers and even more prizes - the latest came this week as one of Glamour magazine's Women of the Year.
But against the backdrop of it all is the team's ongoing battle for equal pay in the sport - and her insistence that the U.S. National Women's Soccer League still isn't doing enough for what is one of the world's most dominant sports franchises, as Rapinoe told Reuters.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) MEGAN RAPINOE, U.S. WOMEN'S SOCCER PLAYER, SAYING: "To only have one really major corporate sponsor sign on after the World Cup after everything that happened, How how did that happen?
Are brands not wanting to, or do we not have the mechanism in place to actually allow them to get involved?" With a trial date set for May for the team's gender discrimination lawsuit against the league, the squad faces the possibility of a Summer Olympics training schedule clouded by legal issues.
And while league attendance grew over 20 percent in 2019 to an average of just over 7300 people per game, Rapinoe believes marketing efforts are falling way short.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) MEGAN RAPINOE, U.S. WOMEN'S SOCCER PLAYER, SAYING: "'Cause I still think it's pretty basic the way we're positioning ourselves.
If the only thing that is ever said about us is how inspiring we are to little girls, then like our marketing plan is complete and utter failure.
So make ME want to go to the game.
Like me, I have my own money.
I'm into a million different things.
But like, what's going to make ME personally want to go?" But there have been bright spots.
Australia's Football Federation just this week announced significant pay raises for its women soccer players.
And earlier this month, the U.S. league announced higher compensation guidelines for its teams - the only problem being it exempts those who play on the U.S. National Team, much to the chagrin of Rapinoe.