Rapinoe, who helped the U.S. women’s soccer team to its fourth World Cup title, made her comments at a ceremony in New York City on Monday. She praised Kaepernick for his activism off the field while "effectively" being banned from the NFL and claimed her skin color was the reason why she was able to receive the award and talk about injustices in the country.
"While I'm enjoying all of this unprecedented and, frankly, a little bit uncomfortable attention and personal success, in large part due to my activism off the field, Colin Kaepernick is still effectively banned from the NFL for kneeling during the national anthem in protest of known and systematic police brutality against people of color, known and systematic racial injustice, known and systematic white supremacy."
"I see no clearer example of that system being alive and well than me standing before you right now. It would be a slap in the face to Colin, and to so many other faces, not to acknowledge, and for me personally, to work relentlessly to dismantle that system that benefits some over the detriment of others, and frankly is quite literally tearing us apart in this country."
Rapinoe added: "I'm not going to act like my whiteness has nothing to do with me standing before you now. I don't want to live in that kind of world. And I don't think that that kind of world is the world that suits everybody and is going to move us forward in the direction that we need to go."
Rapinoe was one of the athletes who first started to kneel during the national anthem outside of football when she did during a National Women's Soccer League match in 2016.
When U.S. soccer made a rule that each player had to stand for the national anthem, she responded by vowing to not put her hand over her heart or sing as "The Star-Spangled Banner" played before matches.
Rapinoe won the Golden Boot and Golden Ball at the World Cup as the tournament's top scorer and top player.