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Right-wing figures cheer as soccer legend Megan Rapinoe suffers an Achilles tear during her final match

A few minutes into the final match of her professional career, U.S. women’s soccer legend Megan Rapinoe tore her Achilles tendon, forcing her to sit out the remainder of the game. After the match, Rapinoe joked to the press, “I’m not a religious person or anything, and if there was a God, like this is proof that there isn’t — because this is fucked up.” Right-wing media figures, who have attacked Rapinoe as “selfish” and “anti-American” for expressing her “woke” political opinions, celebrated Rapinoe’s injury and claimed that it was in fact proof that God exists.

  • Megan Rapinoe played the final game of her professional sports career

    • Rapinoe had a legendary and unprecedented soccer career for club and country. Rapinoe has had a legendary soccer career, including helping the U.S. win the Women's World Cup in 2015 and 2019; she was also the only player to capture both the Ballon d'Or Féminin and Golden Ball (the World Cup's best player award). [ESPN, 7/21/23; Associated Press, 9/22/23]
    • On November 11, Megan Rapinoe was lifted almost immediately from her final match, the National Women’s Soccer League championship game, after suffering an Achilles tear. The injury occurred shortly after the match began. In a post-match press conference, Rapinoe jokingly commented, “If there is a God, this is proof that there isn’t.” [Bleacher Report, 11/15/23; National Women’s Soccer League, 11/12/23]
    • Rapinoe has been an outspoken advocate in favor of pay equity, the Black Lives Matter movement, and inclusion of trans women in sports. Rapinoe joined her World Cup-winning U.S. women’s soccer teammates in suing the U.S. Soccer Federation to equalize pay between the women’s and men’s national teams. In 2016, she made waves when she kneeled during the U.S. national anthem in solidarity with then-San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick to protest racial inequality and police brutality. Rapinoe has also been outspoken about the importance of including trans women in sports. [Time, 6/19/22, NPR, 6/23/21; New York Times, 2/22/22]
    • Right-wing media have obsessively criticized Rapinoe, characterizing her activism as “anti-American.” Following her comments about not wanting to visit then-President Donald Trump at the White House in 2019, Rapinoe was bombarded with an onslaught of attacks. Fox personalities described Rapinoe as “selfish” and attacked her for using her platform to criticize Trump. [Media Matters, 8/7/23, Media Matters, 7/7/22, Media Matters, 7/10/19
  • Right-wing media celebrated Rapinoe’s injury, with some claiming it was a punishment from God

    • Newsmax’s Rob Schmitt introduced a segment about Rapinoe by saying, “The best story we’ll report today is how the most obnoxious, self-obsessed, narcissistic athlete in the world had her career end in the most humiliating way possible.” Laughing, he added, “To all you agnostics out there, have you seen the light now?” [Newsmax, Rob Schmitt Tonight, 11/13/23]
    • Fox News host Greg Gutfeld gloated that Rapinoe’s injury showed God has a sense of humor. “An injury during her championship game is proof positive that God is alive and well and has a kickass sense of humor. You go, God,” Gutfeld said, attacking Rapinoe for being “woke.” “This is wokeism in a nutshell. Megan got far on her woke credentials, but when that ran out, what are you left with? Blame. … Just a jerk blaming God — or no God.” [Fox News, Gutfeld!, 11/13/23]
    • Fox News contributor Raymond Arroyo declared that the injury is “proof that there is a God.” “He lifts us up and he humbles us,” Arroyo said. “Maybe in recovery, Megan will have time to meditate on that.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 11/13/23]
    • Newsmax’s Chris Salcedo jeered, “Some might say that Rapinoe’s career-capping injury is proof that God does exist.” [Newsmax, The Chris Salcedo Show, 11/13/23]
    • Fox News host Jesse Watters joked that his two-year-old son, Jesse Jr., poked his head out of his crib and said people would celebrate Rapinoe’s injury. Watters suggested that “perhaps people feel happy that she went down the way she did.” [Fox News, The Five, 11/13/23]
    • Newsmax’s Rob Finnerty said Rapinoe’s injury “is more proof there is a God.” Co-host Alex Kramer then attacked Rapinoe’s activism, complaining that she “kneeled for the national anthem” and “fought for equal pay in women’s soccer and then, on the other side, she's promoting men in women's sports.” [Newsmax, Wake Up America, 11/13/23
    • OutKick writer Amber Harding said Rapinoe’s injury was “karma.” “I did not think it was impossible to be more self-important than she already was but, you did it, Megan, you did it,” Harding told Outkick host Charly Arnolt, adding, ”The narcissism that just seeps out of her is absolutely remarkable. But yeah, that's exactly what that was, it was karma.” [OutKick, OutKick The Morning, 11/13/23]
    • TPUSA contributor and serial plagiarist Benny Johnson mocked Rapinoe for suffering a non-contact injury. In a post accompanied by a laughing emoji, he wrote, “The final play of Megan Rapinoe’s career: Randomly falling over on the ground without even being touched. So fitting.” [Plagiarism Today, 4/22/17; Twitter/X, 11/11/23]
    • The far-right misinformation social media page End Wokeness said Rapinoe’s injury was a “symbolic” end to her career. They posted, “The final moment of Megan Rapinoe’s career was a non-contact injury. Extremely symbolic.” [Twitter/X, 11/11/23]
    • Rogan O’Handley, known as DC Draino, claimed Rapinoe “is leaving soccer the same way she came in (broken and on her knees).” [Twitter/X, 11/13/23]
    • Far-right commentator Ian Miles Cheong posted a Twitter/X poll asking his followers if they believed Rapinoe’s injury was proof God existed. They agreed that it was. [Twitter/X, 11/13/23]