Megan Rapinoe has accused football of failing its players over the way the sport is reacting to racist abuse.
Rapinoe, who highlighted a series of issues in her acceptance speech for her FIFA Player of the Year award last month, went on to brand the £65,000 fine given to Bulgaria “an absolute joke”.
Speaking to BBC Radio 1’s Newsbeat, the American star said it was time for clubs, officials and fans’ groups to stand up and be counted on issues such as racism.
Rapinoe said: “We’re not going to accept this. This is not something that’s going to be in our game.
“So I feel like all of the clubs and the presidents and fan groups and everyone, you know, frankly are failing these players.”
Rapinoe pointed at the controversial punishment handed to the Bulgarian FA following evidence of strong and persistent racist abuse during the recent Euro 2020 qualifier.
“If you’re ever caught doing anything racist you should be banned for life,” added Rapinoe. “That’s just the end of it. I mean £65,000 is an absolute joke.
“For me I’m just like, make it super extreme so it’s damaging to the team, to the federation, so it’s damaging financially.”
Rapinoe went on to single out Raheem Sterling for special praise following the Manchester City star’s strong and persistent stance on racism.
But she insisted more players need to stand up and follow Sterling’s example if the scourge of racism is to be finally banished from the game.
“I need all the players on Raheem’s team, all the players in the Premier League and in the leagues abroad to make it their problem because it really is everybody’s issue,” she added.