Megan Rapinoe to pull out of National Women’s Soccer League

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Washington

Megan Rapinoe will not feature for OL Reign in the National Women’s Soccer League’s return to play next month, according to the team’s head coach Farid Benstiti.
The NWSL is set to become the first major league in the US to return post-coronavirus lockdown, replacing their usual league with a 25-game competition called the Challenge Cup.
However, World Cup-winner Rapinoe, the league’s highest-profile player, is said to be skipping the tournament, following reports from The Washington Post last month that many of the national team roster had voiced doubts about their participation.
The tournament, which was announced last week, will take place between June 27 and July 26 with all nine teams competing at a base in Utah, living in a “player village” for the duration.
Though testing protocols will be in place to avoid the risk of coronavirus spread, the league has given players the choice of opting out of playing with full guarantee of pay and benefits regardless.
In what would be a major blow to the league, Rapinoe, 34, is expected to exercise that option, and the Reign’s new coach Farid Benstiti said he was “disappointed and frustrated” to not have his star player available.
“It’s a shame. I understand her [Megan’s] reasons but I am disappointed and frustrated that she is not going to be with us for the tournament,” Benstiti said in an interview with French outlet Le Progrè?s on Wednesday.
“Megan is an important member of the squad and if she was with the rest of the team, [I feel] we would be able to accomplish something big as a club. She will be greatly missed by the team and also women’s football.”
Ballon d’Or winner Rapinoe last played competitively at the SheBelieves Cup in March with the US women’s national team, before lockdown measures were put in place across the country.
But with different states adopting varying levels of coronavirus shutdown, some teams have had more opportunities than others to get back on the field to train.—AP