The US midfielder talks about why women are at the forefront of fighting injustices and whether she feared for her football career after taking a knee during the national anthem

“As I’ve grown older I’ve really got to understand how powerful one voice can be, my voice can be, or the team’s voice can be. So to hold that back or not to use that just seems selfish in a way.”

If that is the case, Megan Rapinoe is anything but selfish. A World Cup winner and Olympic champion with the US women’s national team, Rapinoe coul easily be satisfied with her lot. But just enjoying the spoils of her success is not enough.

Rapinoe has been a vocal advocate for LGBT rights groups since coming out before the 2012 Olympics. She set out to raise $100,000 for those affected by the Carr fire that ripped through her home county, Shasta, last summer, destroying 1,604 buildings as it became the sixth most destructive fire in California history. And, on 4 September, 2016, before kick-off against Chicago Red Stars, the Seattle Reign midfielder went down on one knee during the playing of the national anthem in solidarity with the protest of the San Francisco 49ers player Colin Kaepernick.

“I think I want the same for myself,” says the 33-year-old, who 11 days later knelt again before USA played Thailand. “Being a white, female, gay athlete. Obviously not everybody is that but it doesn’t mean I don’t want the support for everyone in all of the things I’m fighting for.

“We understand that athletes are idolised and glorified in our culture and it was about using that platform to just support and give support to what he was saying. It became a very racialised issue, a black versus white thing, but it’s not.

“We all should be supporting what he’s saying. The statistics don’t lie – people of colour in prison, people of colour that are disproportionately arrested, monitored by police, police brutality against people of colour.

“It’s not really an issue of whether police brutality exists or not, or whether racism is still an issue or not. It very much is and I think it’s foolish to say it’s not.

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