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Megan Rapinoe: ‘Shout out to MLB’ for moving All-Star game out of Atlanta

Megan Rapinoe, front right, celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal.
U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe (15) celebrates after scoring a goal during the SheBelieves Cup in February.
(Phelan Ebenhack / Associated Press)

U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe waded into the controversy over Major League Baseball’s decision to pull its All-Star Game out of Atlanta, saying athletes and sports leagues have no choice but to take action on political issues.

“Everybody has a responsibility to do whatever it is that they can to make the world a better place,” Rapinoe, long an outspoken advocate on social justice issues, said Wednesday during a virtual media summit organized by the U.S. Olympic Committee.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred supported his players, managers and owners by moving the 2021 All-Star game out of Atlanta over Georgia voting rights law.

MLB moved its midsummer classic from Atlanta to Denver this week in response to Georgia’s approval of a sweeping law that will restrict voting access in the state. Major corporations including Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola have also criticized the law amid calls for a nationwide boycott of Georgia-based companies. Republican leaders have pushed back, saying businesses should stay out of politics.

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“Everybody and every business and everything should be at the disposal to make sure that we’re influencing those laws in the right way. This is extremely undemocratic,” Rapinoe said of the Republican-backed Georgia law, which she called “Jim Crow 2.0 voter suppression.”

“So yeah, shout out to the MLB for taking that step. I’m sure that was difficult. And financially I’m sure it has a lot of implications. Politically I’m sure it does as well. But it draws a very clear line in the sand ... so it’s really a strong step.”

Rapinoe, who was criticized when she took a knee before a 2016 national team game in support of quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s campaign against police brutality, was asked about the progress athletes have made on social justice issues since then. That same year, members of the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx spoke out after the killing of two people by police in what was a rare show of protest. But in the last 12 months, players in the top seven U.S. professional sports leagues have taken public positions on topics such as the Black Lives Matter movement, boycotting games and persuading owners to turn their stadiums and arenas into voting centers.

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“It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come as a group, as athletes,” Rapinoe, 35, a two-time world champion and former Ballon d’Or winner, said.

“To see how empowered athletes are, I think, is the most important thing. Not only [do] we feel comfortable and feel safe enough in this environment and in our jobs to say those things and to be very outward about them, but just how much more responsibility we’ve taken on ourselves.

“I think it’s made a huge difference in the country, to be honest. It changes hearts and minds.”


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