Posters of the US women's soccer team captain Megan Rapinoe have reportedly been vandalised with homophobic slurs in a New York City subway station.
The New York Police Department's Hate Crime Task Force is investigating the alleged vandalism, which is said to have appeared on Monday morning, just a day after the United States won the Women's World Cup in France.
A total of eight posters of the footballer, who is openly gay, were vandalised in the mezzanine of the West 42nd Street subway station, with remarks that are said to feature "various derogatory, anti-sexual orientation comments," as reported toCBS by detective Sophia Mason.
Speaking to CNN, MTA deputy communications director Shams Tarek also condemned the blatant display of homophobia.
Hate has no place in the transit system and we work hard to make the subway a welcoming, safe environment for everyone.
The posters have since been cleaned and removed and Tarek has confirmed that new posters will be installed "if necessary."
Sarah Kate Ellis the president and CEO of LGBT+ media group Glaad, condemned the vandalism in a statement on Twitter, calling it 'disgraceful.'
"Unfortunately, the disgraceful vandalism serves as a painful reminder for how much work needs to be done to create… https://t.co/Oy1rTM2cz8
Rapinoe's status has considerably risen over the past few weeks following her comments criticising Donald Trump which has transformed her not just into an acclaimed athlete but also a spokesperson for equality and LGBT+ inclusion.
Speaking at a parade for the victorious team on Wednesday at New York's City Hall, the 34-year-old, who was also named the best player at the tournament, spoke passionately about the team's responsibilities and the examples they should set for others:
We have to be better. We have to love more, hate less, listen more, talk less. We got to know this is everybody's responsibility. It's our responsibility to make this world a better place.