The 2023 Women’s World Cup is setting a new record for the amount of LGBTQ+ athletes competing, with an astounding number of at least 87. The tournament kicks off later this week, with Ireland playing its first match on Thursday, July 21, against hosts Australia.
While Brazil is the most “out” team as of right now with at least nine LGBTQ+ athletes, Ireland trails closely behind with at least eight, including Diane Caldwell, Sinead Farrelly, Ruesha Littlejohn, Grace Moloney, Aine O’Gorman, Louise Quinn, Lucy Quinn and captain Katie McCabe.
Some of the most notable LGBTQ+ athletes competing, such as Megan Rapinoe of the USA and Marta of Brazil, are retiring after this year’s World Cup.
Beyond the players, there are at least two out coaches, including Pia Sundhage of Brazil and Bev Priestman of Canada.
— Ireland Football ⚽️?? (@IrelandFootball) July 17, 2023
Outsports compiled the data using rather accessible methods, “Outsports has reviewed the social media accounts of over 80% of the 736 athletes competing in the Women’s World Cup, in addition to Google searches for news items and information. We did the best we could, trying to err on the side of caution.
“While we found many assertions or rumors about athletes being LGBTQ, we have stuck to our ‘publicly out’ standard.”
While the representation might imply FIFA’s support for the LGBTQ+ community on paper, the association’s past history contradicts the new record. One of the first openly gay soccer players, Robbie Rogers said in a 2015 opinion piece that “If actions speak louder than words, then the message FIFA sends to gay athletes is painfully clear. Not only don’t they have our backs, our lives don’t matter.”
This sentiment has been echoed in the lead-up to the tournament, as it was announced that team captains would once again be banned from wearing OneLove or rainbow armbands. Instead, FIFA introduced eight alternatives that highlight different social causes, although none specifically advocate for LGBTQ+ inclusion.
Regardless, with a record-breaking number of LGBTQ+ representatives, fans hope that this year’s Women’s World Cup in Australia will be a step in the right direction for the football world at large.
Tune in to RTÉ at 11am on Thursday to support the Girls in Green as they take on Australia in their first fixture of the campaign.
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