The USA star joined Lionel Messi and Jurgen Klopp among the winners at the event in Milan.
After shining at the World Cup to help the USWNT claim glory, Rapinoe also won the Golden Boot and Golden Ball for best player.
And after her latest honour at the iconic Teatro alla Scala, the 34-year-old used her opportunity to raise awareness of issues within the game, discussing racism, homophobia and equal pay, while also paying tribute to England and Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling.
Rapinoe said: “I was going to say some of the stories that have inspired me most this year – Raheem Sterling and (Napoli defender Kalidou) Koulibaly, their incredible performances on the field, but the way that they have taken on the disgusting racism that they have to face, this year but probably for their whole lives.
“I feel like if we really want to have meaningful change, what I think is most inspiring would be if everybody other than Raheem Sterling and Koulibaly, if they were as outraged about racism as they were.
“If everybody was as outraged about homophobia as the LGBTQ players, if everybody was as outraged about equal pay or the lack thereof, or the lack of investment in the women’s game, other than just women, that would be the most inspiring thing to me.
“I feel like that’s my ask of everybody. We have such an incredible opportunity, being professional football players. We have incredible platforms. I ask everyone here – lend your platform to other people, lift other people up, share your success.
“We have a unique opportunity in football to use this beautiful game to actually change the world for better. I hope you take that to heart, and just do something, do anything. We have incredible power in this room.”
Rapinoe won the award ahead of international team-mate Alex Morgan, who matched her in scoring six times during the summer’s tournament in France, and England’s Lucy Bronze, who was the Silver Ball winner at the World Cup.
PA Sport also contributed to this report
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