The FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023, hosted in Australia and New Zealand, was not only a showcase of the best football in the women’s arena but also of the diversity and pride of the LGBTQIA+ community. According to the BBC, approximately 13% of the 736 players at the World Cup identified as lesbian, bisexual, queer, or non-binary. This is an increase of more than double from the previous World Cup in France, highlighting a growth in acceptance and visibility of queerness in football.
For those with knowledge about women’s football, a few names automatically come to mind, including the likes of Megan Rapinoe, Marta Vieira da Silva, and Jess Carter. They have dominated the football stage in their own right, earning Ballon d’Or awards and best player awards. They have also become iconic representations for the queer community in sport.
Rapinoe, who retired from international duties after winning the 2019 World Cup, is now a coach and an outspoken activist for LGBTQIA+ rights. Rapinoe loves the glitz and glamour both on and off the pitch with her illustrious celebration and pink hair. She also made headlines for proudly kissing her girlfriend, WNBA star Sue Bird, after the World Cup finals.
Marta Vieira da Silva, widely regarded as one of the greatest female players of all time playing for Brazil, is engaged to her teammate Toni Presley. She is a player who, for many years, has shown her love for the game as well as for her partner.
From the football stage, the LGBTQIA+ community has seen a growth in acceptance and inclusion. So much so that the 2023 Women’s World Cup was considered the “gayest” (pun not intended) tournament in history, and no one’s batting an eyelid. Only the future change to reveal tell the advancement of the community within the sport and the heights they will reach.