Eight posters featuring U.S. women's soccer star Megan Rapinoe were vandalized with derogatory slurs at a New York City subway station Monday, the New York Police Department confirmed to USA TODAY Sports on Wednesday.
NYPD detective Hubert Reyes said the department's hate crimes task force has opened up an investigation into one suspect who allegedly marked the World Cup celebratory posters with "homophobic comments" degrading Rapinoe, USWNT's captain who is openly gay and an advocate for LGBTQ rights. The vandalism occurred early Monday and was reported around 7:15 a.m. ET, Reyes said.
The posters displayed Rapinoe in her U.S. uniform and included the phrase "Dream with us." They were located around Manhattan's Bryant Park subway station (near Sixth Avenue and 42nd Street). Reyes said officials quickly worked with New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) officials to clean the posters or replace them.
'THIS IS A HUGE DEAL': Fans gather to celebrate USWNT World Cup title at parade
United States women’s soccer team forward Megan Rapinoe (15) addresses the fans during the ceremony at City Hall after winning the 2019 FIFA World Cup. (Photo: Vincent Carchietta, USA TODAY Sports)
“Hate has no place in the transit system and we work hard to make the subway a welcoming, safe environment for everyone,” MTA deputy communications director Shams Tarek said in a statement. “We referred this to NYPD which responded to investigate, our maintenance teams got the posters cleaned and we will have them replaced with new ones if necessary.”
Rapinoe, who played a pivotal role in leading USWNT to another World Cup title, has been a vocal leader of the team off the field. On Tuesday night in a CNN appearance, she challenged President Donald Trump for spreading a message that excludes people like her. "You need to do better for everyone," she said.
On Wednesday at the USWNT's celebratory World Cup parade, Rapinoe said to the crowd: "There's been so much contention in these last years. I've been a victim of that, I've been a perpetrator of that. With our fight with the federation, sorry for some of the things said. Not all of the things. But it's time to come together."
Rapinoe was awarded the Golden Ball and the Golden Boot for being the World Cup's best player and top scorer.
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