Record number of out LGBTQ+ footballers will compete in 2023 Women’s World Cup
A record number of out-LGBTQ+ footballers will compete in the Women’s World Cup, which kicks off in Australia and New Zealand on 20 July.
Almost 12 per cent of the 736 players competing this year identify as lesbian, bisexual, queer or non-binary.
So far, the known total of 88 LGBTQ+ players more than doubles the number who played in the 2019 tournament in France, Outsports reported.
The LGBTQ+ sports website noted that, while, during the past four years, the number of teams taking part has grown from 24 to 32, the number of out women more than doubling “reflects the growth of acceptance” in the sport.
Most of the out players are from countries that are more accepting of LGBTQ+ identities, including America, Europe and the host nations, with Brazil being the most publically LGBTQ+ team looking to lift the trophy.
Nine out of 23 of Brazil’s players identify as LGBTQ+, including the legendary Marta Vieira da Silva – best-known by just her first name – who is playing in her sixth World Cup.
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Australia and the Republic of Ireland both have eight out players, while Sweden has seven.
England’s team features four out players – Lauren Hemp, Jess Carter, Rachel Daly and Bethany England – with the latter three having made history by becoming European champions after a 2-1 victory against Germany in the final last year.
At least two of the head coaches are publically out: Brazil’s Pia Sundhage and Canada’s Bev Priestman.
Cyd Zeigler, the co-founder of Outsports, pointed out that while queer women playing elite-level football continues to rise, there were no out LGBTQ+ players in the men’s tournament last year.
Zeigler told NBC news: “This is true across basketball, ice hockey and most every other sport. The WNBA [women’s netball] has over 25 per cent out women. That higher presence of out athletes naturally creates an environment where more women feel comfortable being out. As we say at Outsports, ‘courage Is contagious’.”
The world of men’s professional football has long been playing catch-up when it comes to LGBTQ+ representation and visibility, but small wins continue to be scored, with a handful of players proving that you can be out and proud in the men’s game.
These players include Adelaide United’s Josh Cavallo, Blackpool’s Jake Daniels, Bonnyrigg Rose’s Zander Murray, Czech international Jakub Jankto, San Diego Loyal’s Collin Martin and, in South Africa, Phuti Lekoloane, who plays for Tornado FC.
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