The U.S. Women’s National Team dominated Japan in Sunday’s 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup final, defeating the team that beat them four years ago 5-2.
USA roared out to a 4-0 lead in the first 15 minutes of the game and never looked back. It was the third World Cup victory for the American women and the first since 1999 when Brandi Chastain famously stripped down to her sports bra after scoring the winning goal on a penalty kick.
Just four short years ago, during the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the Washington Blade published a story about the homophobic situation with the Nigerian women’s national team and the few openly gay players that were competing.
This year’s World Cup was a testimony to the progress that has been made through the efforts of the LGBT sports movement. Several sources identified at least 15 openly gay players and two openly gay coaches. Many of them have stated that they came out to help end anti-LGBT bias in soccer.
Front and center on the American team were lesbian athletes Megan Rapinoe, Abby Wambach and Ali Krieger along with lesbian coach Jill Ellis.
Last year at the 2014 FIFA Men’s World Cup, the number of openly gay players was zero.
Sami Holtz, a lesbian player with the LGBT soccer team in D.C. the Federal Triangles Soccer Club, offered her take on the lesbian presence.
“There is such a difference in the presentation of the players that are out,” says Holtz. “It’s that question of whether you should be advocating for the LGBT sports movement or just trying to live your life.”
Rapinoe served as guest editor of last year’s Washington Blade sports issue; Wambach was seen running to the sidelines to kiss her wife after the team’s victory Sunday. In 2009, Wambach sat with the Federal Triangles in their booth at Capital Pride and Holtz reflected on the experience.
“Wambach was talking about getting a bulldog that day in our Pride booth and I remember thinking how it easy it was to relate to her,” Holtz says. “These out athletes are receiving media attention that will help change what it means to be a sports celebrity.”