Ex-USWNT star Megan Rapinoe says those who celebrated injury in final game 'are in a special place in hell'



Retired U.S. women’s national team star Megan Rapinoe criticized the backlash inspired by the events of her final game, saying those who celebrated the injury she sustained in the opening minutes of the 2023 NWSL Championship “are in a special place in hell.”

Rapinoe started for then-OL Reign and now Seattle Reign in last November’s match, which the team went on to lose 2-1 to NJ/NY Gotham FC, but came off after just six minutes because she tore her Achilles. The imperfect ending to her storied career was followed by a joke Rapinoe made in a post-match press conference, when she said, “If there was a God, this is proof that there isn’t.”

Her comment was met with criticism from a sizable number of religious people, as well as negative attention in some tabloids, but Rapinoe said she was surprised the quip got as much press as it did.

“I didn’t even realize it was that big of a thing because I don’t get into my comments like that,” Rapinoe said on an episode of the podcast Pablo Torre Finds Out, in which she was interviewed alongside retired WNBA star and her fiancée Sue Bird. “I don’t even use Twitter anymore but then I started hearing about it from lots of different people.”

Rapinoe acknowledged the comment was a joke, which was a regular feature in her public comments. In the same post-match press conference, she took a comedic approach when describing her injury by saying she “f—ing yeeted” her Achilles, but in the interview described those who criticized her comments about God as being disingenuous.

“It’s life,” she said. “We want these perfect stories and I’m like a controversial figure and having people low-key celebrate it but then also be so disingenuous about it that that part is kind of funny, too. I’m like, wow. You guys are in a special place in hell that you’re celebrating this. I’m not going to that hell.”

She also explained the joke was a commentary on how religion and sports end up interacting with one another.

“I have talked very openly about my belief, or lack of belief rather, in God and I feel like that’s normal,” Rapinoe said. “All of the other signals that I see from athletes [are] talking about their particular station of faith in life so why can’t I talk about my particular station? Obviously, I’m doing that purposely and I’m not literally saying that but I always found it important for me to at least say that. I’m not going to dance around it. Sports and faith are so intertwined in this really bizarre way that does always have to do with, ‘God was looking out for us tonight because we won.’ ,,, It’s a whole thing.”

Though Rapinoe frequently leans on humor to describe the situation, she also admitted that her career ended with a long-term injury is ultimately something she finds sad.

“It’s funny,” she quipped before continuing. “It’s not but it’s like dark humor. If you can’t laugh at this, you can’t laugh at anything … I wish it didn’t happen. I’m just thinking about my teammates coming over and of course, it’s sad.”

Bird also said she, as well as the members of Rapinoe’s family who were with her at a suite in Snapdragon Stadium, were sad to see the Women’s World Cup winner’s career end that way. The rest of the night, though, became a celebration of Rapinoe’s legacy.

“I was just really sad for the moment,” Bird said. “I was just really bummed in the moment and knowing that you didn’t get to finish your final game, in your final season. … There was a lot of commiserating, there were some tears but very quickly, I think, everybody turned to not celebrating that, but it turned into, ‘Let’s cheer on Seattle. We know Megan’s okay. She’s texted us from the locker room. We know she’s okay and now let’s just be in this moment.'”

Though it was not the fairytale ending for Rapinoe’s career, she feels that the injury nor the missed penalty in the USWNT’s round of 16 exit at last year’s World Cup will define her impact.

“I don’t think it takes anything away from my career,” she said. “I don’t think missing that penalty takes anything away from my career. It’s actually all part of it and if you don’t try, you’re never going to do anything.”





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