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The women of the World Cup have done it again. No, we aren’t referring to the 2015 championship trophy won by the U.S. women, adding to the American wins in 1999 and 1991. And no, we aren’t referring to the fact that underpaid female soccer players have won all of the World Cup trophies collected by the U.S. (the men’s team has never won). Nope, we’re talking about gaying up the field.
The 2015 women’s World Cup was the most openly queer mainstream sporting event in history. Apart from the Gay Games, there were more out players on at this World Cup than at any big tournament ever held—with a total of 16 out lesbian or bisexual soccer stars on the field.
According to AfterEllen, the 2011 World Cup featured merely eight out lesbian players. Some of the players that weren’t on the out list then, though, have since gone public. Abby Wambach was quiet about her sexuality then, but has since become the face of lesbian athletes everywhere with the incredible kiss planted on her upside-down wife Sarah Huffman shortly after the 5-2 win Sunday.
What SheWired called “The kiss heard round the world” went viral far and wide, giving sports fans everywhere a chance to celebrate both the historic win and the recent same-sex marriage victory all at once.
But Wambach and Huffman were hardly the World Cup’s only lesbian couple, just its most visible that day. Here is a full list off all the out players from the 2015 women’s World Cup—as verified by the LGBT sports blog Just a Ball Game? and by SB Nation Outsports—complete with whatever cute family photos made it online.
1) Abby Wambach, U.S.
As previously stated, Wambach’s wifey kiss has situated her as the posterchild of lesbian athletes. And it’s cute and all that Wambach is happily married but let’s focus on—dear God—how hot she is. Like the kind of butch hotness that makes even gay men swoon and nearly fall over.
I Am Not the Only One/Tumblr
2) Jillian Ellis, U.S.
Ellis recently replaced Pia Sundhage as coach of the U.S. women’s national team. Her partner Betsy Stephenson works at the University of Miami medical school’s sports medicine department, and Ellis is frequently photographed with her daughter Lily—such as in this recent Miami Herald story. One shot of Ellis taking notes during a game spurred the creation of a fanfic Tumblr devoted to her mock diary entries.
3) Megan Rapinoe, U.S.
She technically came out in a 2012 Out interview, but Rapinoe said she never intended to be closeted—she was simply never asked if she was gay. In 2013, she ended a five-year relationship with fellow player Sarah Walsh and is now partnered with Sub Pop’s Seattle-based musician Sera Cahoone, making Rapinoe the official indie rocker of the World Cup.
4) Pia Sundhage, Sweden
The former U.S. team coach told a Swedish TV reporter in 2010 that “There has been no problem for me to be openly gay as head coach in the U.S.” Now 55, Sundhage is the silver fox of our sporty, out lesbian coach dreams.
5) Lisa Dahlkvist, Sweden
The Nordic midfielder came out in 2008 and frequently references family in her interviews, telling a Swedish soccer site in 2011 that her girlfriend was coming to a game in the U.S. and her parents would attend another game “if they can afford a dogsitter.”
6) Nilla Fischer, Sweden
Fischer married her wife, Mariah-Michaela, in a ridiculously beautiful 2013 ceremony. Both brides wore traditional white dresses, but Fischer used her crazy athlete muscle to pick up her wife and carry her around for awhile, gender roles be damned.
7) Hedvig Lindahl, Sweden
The Chelsea FC goalkeeper said in an interview for her team’s website that she didn’t come out “until quite late, around 27 or 28.” But now she is happily married to her wife, Sabina, with whom she has a child. The ambassador for LGBT sports organization Athlete Ally said that being a lesbian “has allowed me to have a family during my career without having to take a year off to have the baby.”
8) Caroline Seger, Sweden
In 2013 the player told a Swedish magazine that she was gay and had known it since age 17. “Yes, I implied that I was seeing guys. Constantly guarding for all questions that were about my crushes,” Seger told Topphälsa, “You get good at lying with time. It’s nothing that I am proud of today. My friends got caught in the middle because I got myself tangled up and lied. Eventually there was only one solution: to come out.”
9) Katie Duncan, New Zealand
10) Casey Stoney, England
Stoney is the proud mama of twins with her partner Megan Harris and told the Daily Mail in 2014: “It’s only since meeting Megan that I’ve felt loved and secure.”
11) Lianne Sanderson, England
In 2014, Sanders and ex-girlfriend Joanna Lohman were featured in the Boston Globe as the “only gay couple in pro sports” when they played on the Boston Breakers together. We’ve since seen more same-team couples come out, but Sanderson stands apart even on a lesbian-drenched field with her super awesome, super queer, bleached mohawk.
A photo posted by Lianne Sanderson (@liannesanderson10) on
12) Michelle Heyman, Australia
According to Just a Ball Game?, Heyman has “never been in the closet” and “it’s a non-issue.” Without making any specific coming-out declarations, Heyman her referred to teammate Stephanie Ochs as her girlfriend on Twitter. Regardless of her relationship status, Ochs definitely rivals Wambach for cutest butch in soccer.
13) Nadine Angerer, Germany
Angerer came out as bisexual in a 2010 interview with German mag Die Zeit. “I am very open about this, because I am of the opinion there are nice guys and nice women,” Angerer said. “Besides, I find it totally silly to have a general definition.” Angerer is also a badass player, becoming the first goalkeeper ever (male or female) to win the FIFA Player Of the Year award in 2014.
14) Isabell Herlovsen, Norway
Herlovsen told a Norweigan reporter that she has always been out to her family, but announced that she was gay publicly in 2011.
15) Trine Ronning, Norway
In 2009, when Norway became one of the first countries in the world to legalize same-sex marriage, Ronning wed national teammate Kristin Blystad Bjerke. They have since split, but Ronning’s Instagram shows pics of her with a new lady love, including a champagne celebration posted the day of the U.S. marriage equality ruling with the caption #lovewins.
A photo posted by Trine Rønning (@trineronn) on
16) Erin McLeod, Canada
This march, soccer player Ella Masar wrote a very Christian coming-out announcement in Pitchside Report about her love for fellow soccer player Erin McLeod. The post was sprinkled with Bible verses, but it also said of McLeod, “everything she stands for, everything she was and is, how she pushes me to be… a better version of myself daily is something I am so incredibly proud to be a part of and would never hide.”
Correction: The World Cup final ended 5-2.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Mary Emily O'Hara is an LGBTQ reporter. Her work has appeared in Rolling Stone, NBC Out, Daily Dot, Broadly, Vice, the Daily Beast, the Advocate, Huffington Post, DNAinfo, Al Jazeera, and Portland's Pulitzer Prize-winning newsweekly Willamette Week, among other outlets.