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World Cup winner Rapinoe opts out of NWSL fall series

FILE PHOTO: Megan Rapinoe of the U.S. celebrates scoring their first goal during the France v United States game during the Women's World Cup Quarter Final at Parc des Princes, Paris, France June 28, 2019. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo

(Reuters) - Two-times World Cup winner and OL Reign midfielder Megan Rapinoe is opting out of the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) fall series starting next month, the Washington-based franchise said in a statement here on Friday.

U.S. international Rapinoe is among 10 Reign players who are not available for the tournament, which is scheduled to start on Sept. 5.

No reason was given for her decision but Rapinoe, 35, also skipped the NWSL Challenge Cup tournament in June, which was played in empty stadiums due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The fall series features nine teams divided into three regional pods, West, Northeast and South, and playing four games each over seven weeks. Its format has yet to be announced.

The NWSL scheduled the Challenge Cup and fall series as a replacement for its regular league season, which was cancelled this year due to the epidemic.

Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Chennai; editing by John Stonestreet

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