Megan Rapinoe, the iconic face of the U.S. women’s national soccer team, has announced her retirement, revealing that the 2023 Women’s World Cup will be her last tournament. The announcement came at a press conference in San Jose, just a day before she and the USWNT were set to depart for the World Cup, which will mark Rapinoe’s fourth appearance on the global stage.
Rapinoe, who has garnered millions of fans throughout her career, will exit the game with an impressive list of accomplishments, including at least two World Cup victories and an Olympic gold medal. She expressed a deep sense of peace, gratitude, and excitement as she reflected on her journey and the unexpected path that the beautiful game has taken her on.
The decision to retire had been on Rapinoe’s mind for the past year, and she admitted to contemplating it since 2019 when she rose to fame while leading the U.S. to their fourth Women’s World Cup title. During this time, she also became a prominent advocate for social justice and played a pivotal role in the USWNT’s fight for equal pay. Alongside these endeavors, Rapinoe faced injury setbacks but ultimately decided to stay in the game, feeling that she still had more to offer.
Rapinoe’s decision to retire after the 2023 Women’s World Cup may come as a surprise to some, as she had evaded questions about her future in the sport. However, the 38-year-old acknowledged that continuing to a fifth World Cup in 2027 was unlikely. She expressed her excitement for the final half-season of her career and the upcoming retirement, but also acknowledged that there would be things she would miss dearly. She highlighted the moments shared with teammates in locker rooms, buses, and hotels, the camaraderie, and the support through tough times. These are the memories that she believes cannot be replicated and will forever hold a special place in her heart.
To commemorate Rapinoe’s illustrious career, her club team, the OL Reign, will hold a special event during their final regular-season home game on October 6, titled “Forever Reign: A Celebration of Megan Rapinoe.” The U.S. national team is also expected to announce details of a celebratory match in her honor following the World Cup.
Rapinoe revealed that the timing of her retirement announcement, months in advance, was inspired by her fiancée, Sue Bird, who recently had a farewell tour in the WNBA. She wanted to savor every moment and share the experience with her teammates, friends, and family. She expressed gratitude for being able to go out on her own terms and in a peaceful and settled manner, highlighting the rarity of such an opportunity for athletes.
As Rapinoe looks ahead to the final chapter of her career, she expressed her desire to focus on the task at hand—winning another World Cup with her team. With her passion, talent, and unwavering dedication to social issues, Rapinoe has left an indelible mark on the world of soccer and will be remembered as one of the greatest to have ever played the game.