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2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup: A Celebration of LGBTQ+ Players and Women’s Soccer

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Jul 24, 2023

2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup: A Celebration of LGBTQ+ Players and Women’s Soccer

Women’s soccer matters to lesbians, and lesbians matter to women’s soccer.

Think about it — the most popular sport in the world is dominated by queer women. And it’s a time when the world celebrates us.  It hasn’t always been like this. Queer athletes like Billie Jean King have been outed and shamed for decades. 

But in my lifetime, we have been blessed by so much gay shit at every international tournament. The sports bra! The kiss! The sportsmanship! (I promise, I will elaborate below.) And every four years, the World Cup is more unapologetically queer — and celebrated for it. 

And trust me, get in on the women’s soccer knowledge, and you have a great conversation topic for your next date. I speak from experience. I have not set foot on a soccer field since I was 8 years old, but I love gay drama, and it has definitely upped my game. Next time you see a sporty gay, try one of these opening lines inspired by the World Cup: 

  • Is your name Ashlyn Harris? Because you’re a keeper. 
  • Are you an ACL tear that’s ruining the USWNT roster? Because you’ve got me weak at the knees.
  • Are you a soccer ball? Because I hurt myself pretty bad falling for you. 
  • Are you the 2023 Women’s World Cup? Because we’re going down under tonight babyyyy!

Okay, are you ready? Here’s your crash course just in time for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. 

When and where is the Women’s World Cup?

Source: Wikimedia commons

The FIFA Women’s World Cup runs from July 20 to August 20 in 10 stadiums across nine cities in Australia and New Zealand. 

The 32 teams will compete in three-game group stages from July 20 to August 5. Top teams advance to an elimination round of 16 from August 5 to August 8, with quarterfinals set for August 11 and 12, semifinals on August 15 and 16, and the final on August 20 in Sydney. 

How to Watch the Women’s World Cup

Source: Wikimedia commons

In the US, the tournament will air in English on Fox and FS1, and Peacock and Telemundo will broadcast games in Spanish. For American viewers, Melbourne is 14 hours ahead of New York, and Auckland is 16 hours. So prepare for some early mornings if you want to watch the games live.  

Women’s Soccer 101: A Crash Course

Source: Wikimedia commons

Listen, I’m not a sports reporter, and I promise most of this article will be focused on celesbian soccer drama. But we need to cover some basics. You don’t want to be caught listing off all of the gay couples in the NWSL and the FA, and then someone asks who won gold at the 2021 Olympics, and you go, “Uh? The US?” No! You just fumbled the bag. 

So let’s start with some basics.

Who is favored to win 

The United States is favored to win the World Cup, but they certainly have competition. While the USWNT dominated international women’s soccer in the 1990s and early 2000s, other teams are catching up as they invest more in women’s sports. 

Most recently, Canada won the gold medal at the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo, despite being ranked 7th. With lots of the top teams facing injuries, we could see some major shakeups. 

Injuries Impacting the 2023 Women’s World Cup

The big story going into the World Cup is injuries. For the USWNT, stars like captain Beck Sauerbrunn, Mallory Swanson, and Sam Mewis are all out. England, France, the Netherlands, and Canada are also struggling with injuries. 

And not to get all serious on your silly, goofy, gay soccer article, but this is not a coincidence. As women’s soccer is picking up sponsorships and broadcast deals, women are playing more games and more minutes, and it’s taking its toll. 

We are sacrificing our women athletes in a system designed for and by capitalist men. And also, stop blaming it on our bodies! Change the coaching! 

Professional Women’s Soccer 

As a quick piece of background information, the two main professional leagues in women’s soccer are the National Women’s Soccer League in the United States and the FA Women’s Super League in Europe. 

The NWSL is currently streaming games on Peacock on Fridays and Saturdays. The cup competition is great this year, and there are only 12 teams, so it’s a very beginner-friendly league to follow. 

Get the gays together and practice before the World Cup. I can’t tell you what the offsides are — you just have to see it. 

Lesbians who Paved the Way in Women’s Soccer

This article wouldn’t be complete without a comprehensive list of the lesbian soccer players who paved the way for the rest of us. 

So, I’ve taken it upon myself to compile a list of the gayest, baddest, most iconic wlw soccer players (and their sports bras) you’re going to want to know, like:

  • Christen Press and Tobin Heath 
  • Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris 
  • Abby Wambach 
  • Brandi Chastain’s sports bra
  • Megan Rapinoe
  • Quinn
  • Kelley O’Hara
  • Kristie Mewis and Sam Kerr
  • Rachel Daly
  • Danielle van de Donk and Ellie Carpenter

Christen Press and Tobin Heath 

Source: Instagram

I could write this entire article about the impact of Christen Press and Tobin Heath on the Lesbians of Women’s Soccer, but this is an introductory course. Where to begin? 

These are two amazing soccer players. They’ve won two world cups together in 2015 in Canada and 2019 in France. Christen holds the all-time scoring and assists record for the Stanford Cardinals, where they both played. Tobin has been to three Olympics and has two gold medals. 

And they are in LOVE! And they have been for years! They might be married??? Listen, we were in the trenches of Tumblr pulling together the #Preath timeline in 2015, going off of crumbs. AND FLASH FORWARD FIVE YEARS, THEY JUST STARTED POSTING TOGETHER! ALL THE TIME!!! WE WERE RIGHT ALL ALONG!!!

Our moms won’t be at the World Cup this year. But their relationship is the foundation of this canon. We are living in the world created for us by the lesbians of USWNT Tumblr. 

Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris 

Source: Instagram

These two were the lovebirds of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. They began dating in 2010 when they met playing for the USWNT, and they tied the knot in 2020. I’ve watched their wedding video more times than I care to admit. They won two world cups together, Ashlyn as a goalie and Ali as a defender. 

Now they have two adorable children, and Krieger is finishing her last season playing for Gotham before retirement, but neither of them will be at the World Cup. 

Abby Wambach 

Source: Wikimedia commons

Abby Wambach was on the USWNT from 2004 to 2015, winning two Olympic gold medals and attending four world cups, winning one. She currently stands as the all-time highest scorer for the US team for both female and male players at 184 international goals. 

In retirement, Wambach has become an author and advocate. She is also married to Glennon Doyle, author of Untamed, and stars in her wife’s award-winning podcast “We Can Do Hard Things.” 

Honorable mention: Brandi Chastain’s sports bra

Source: Youtube

Brandi Chastain is straight, but her sports bra is gay. 

When the USWNT won the 1999 Women’s World Cup and Brandi Chastain ripped off her shirt in pure spontaneous joy, a generation of soccer lesbians was born. 

8 LGBTQ+ players to watch in Australia

Megan Rapinoe 

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Megan Rapinoe. The baddest and gayest to ever do it. She captained the USWNT from 2018 to 2020. She holds two World Cup titles and an Olympic gold medal. 

She bends it better than Beckham, as the first player, male or female, to score a goal from the corner at the Olympics. And she just announced that she will retire after this season. 

Rapinoe has been a vocal advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and pay equity for women’s athletes. She was among the first international athletes to kneel in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick. She’s beefed with D*nald Tr*mp. My girl comes correct. 

Oh, and she’s also married to Sue Bird, one of the best WNBA players of all time. Lesbians stay winning. 


Source: Instagram

At Tokyo, Quinn became the first openly trans and nonbinary athlete to compete at the Olympics, the first to medal, and the first to win a gold medal. Speechless.

When it was announced that they would be the first nonbinary person to compete, they wrote in an Instagram post, “I don’t know how to feel. I feel proud seeing ‘Quinn’ on the lineup…I feel optimistic about change…Mostly, I feel aware of the realities. Trans girls are being banned from sports. Trans women face discrimination and bias while trying to pursue their Olympic dreams. The fight isn’t close to over.” 

And they’ll be back on the Canada National Team at the World Cup. We have no choice but to root for them with our whole hearts!

Kelley O’Hara

Source: Youtube

Kelley O’Hara will return for her fourth World Cup in 2023. She already has two World Cup titles and a gold medal, but she’s back for more. 

After winning the 2019 World Cup, O’Hara ran to the stands and kissed her girlfriend, though she had not come out publicly before the World Cup, an image that makes me tear up to this day. And that’s why lesbians won the Women’s World Cup in 2019. 

Kristie Mewis and Sam Kerr

Source: Instagram

Sam Kerr is one of the best soccer players in the world today. She plays for the Australian National Team and Chelsea FC. Kristie Mewis is going to her first world cup after playing in the Olympics in 2021. (Her sister Sam Mewis is also one of the best midfielders in the world, but she’s injured.) 

For the 2021 Olympics, Kristie Mewis and Sam Kerr took a leaf out of the Christen Press and Tobin Heath Book of Having the Fandom in a Chokehold. 

At the beginning of the year, Kerr and Mewis had just ended long-term relationships with other soccer players, but fans started noticing them commenting some thirsty shit on each others’ posts. 

Then they pop up at the Olympics — a.k.a. a lesbian dating conference — and we see Kristie comforting (flirting aggressively with) Sam after Australia lost to the U.S. (See below: the best meme of the Olympics: “They’re lesbians Stacey.” )

Then on the last day of the Olympics, we get a hard launch on Instagram: Kristie sitting on Sam’s lap, and they’re making out. And they have been feeding the fandom with iconic couple content ever since. 

How will they demonstrate their sportsmanship at this World Cup? I would not be surprised if we see them making out for 10 minutes on the field. 

Rachel Daly 

Source: Wikimedia commons

Here’s the deal with Rachel Daly. She is a force in women’s soccer. She is also accustomed to playing with and against her exes. 

Daly will play for the English National Team at the World Cup, where she will see her ex Kristie Mewis and also her ex’s new girlfriend Sam Kerr. 

Technically, Daly moved on first when she briefly dated Millie Turner (not to be confused with Millie Bright, Sam Kerr’s bestie, also playing for England at the World Cup, and not gay), but they have since broken up. 

Danielle van de Donk and Ellie Carpenter

Source: Wikimedia commons

Danielle Van de Donk will be at the World Cup for the Netherlands National Team. She was a dominant player in the 2021 Olympics. Ellie Carpenter, her girlfriend, is a defender for Australia and a two-time Olympian. 

They’re gorgeous, and they’re gorgeous soccer players, but they are also involved in an L-word chart of lesbians in women’s soccer. 

Danielle used to date Beth Mead, who would have been the captain for the English National Team if it weren’t for a torn ACL, and Beth Mead is currently dating a different Dutch player, Vivianne Miedema, who is also injured and off the roster for the World Cup. 

Now that you know all the drama, enjoy some amazing soccer. Let’s go, lesbians! 

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Catherine Henderson is a journalist based in Chicago. She has worked at a wide variety of newsrooms, including The Denver Post, Chalkbeat, Business Insider and In These Times, covering education, career development and culture. Catherine holds a master’s and bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. Outside of work, she enjoys traveling, exploring Chicago, reading LGBTQ lit, and analyzing internet trends.

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