This year's Women's World Cup will host a record number of out LGBTQ+ athletes.
At least 88 out athletes will compete at the tournament, hosted later this month in Australia and New Zealand. That's 12 percent of the current competing athletes, and more than double the amount that competed at the 2019 Women's World Cup, which recorded 38 out players, according to Outsports.
While 32 teams are competing this year, as opposed to 24 in 2019, the trend still reflects a positive shift in acceptance in the field. The number of out women nearly tripled, whereas the number of teams only increased by one-third.
The majority come from the Americas, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, where LGBTQ+ acceptance is more widespread than in the Middle East, Africa, and many Asian countries.
In Nigeria and Zambia, LGBTQ+ people face imprisonment, but in South Africa homosexuality has been legal for over 25 years. Today, two women on the country's team are openly LGBTQ+.
There are also two head coaches who are publicly out: Pia Sundhage of Brazil, and Bev Priestman of Canada. Eight out of the 22 teams with captains are led by LGBTQ+ players, one-fourth of the overall 32 teams.
Brazil has the most out athletes, with nine players publicly identifying as LGBTQ+ — over one-third of the team. Ireland and Australia each have eight, Sweden has seven, and the Netherlands has six. The United States has just three, down from five in 2019, including Megan Rapinoe, a two-time World Cup winner and three-time Olympic gold winner.
Both Rapinoe and Marta of Brazil are playing in their final World Cup, as Rapinoe announced her retirement earlier this week. Marta is playing in her sixth World Cup, and is regarded as one of the greatest women's soccer players of all time.
In comparison, there were no out LGBTQ+ players competing at the Men's World Cup last November.