As the 2014 World Cup is approaching, GLAAD recognizes some out soccer players. Although these athlete will not participate in the World Cup in Brazil, it is important to highlight key athletes as they help pave the pave for equality in sports all over the world. Those athletes include:
Nadine Angerer, a goalkeeper for the German National Soccer Team and Portland Thorns FC in the NWSL (National Women's Soccer League). In January 2014, Angerer was named FIFA Women's World Player of the Year. In 2010 Angerer openly came out as bisexual: “I am very open about this, because I am of the opinion there are nice guys and nice women,” said Angerer “Besides, I find it totally silly to have a general definition. … I see no problem for me to come out of the closet. This is nothing new for me, so I can deal with the issue in a totally relaxed manner.”
Bente Nordby, former Norwegian National Team goalkeeper retired from the game in 2008. Just 3 years earlier, Nordby publicly came out in an article for Se & Hör. Nordby is the second-most capped player for Norway's National Team with 172 international appearances. The last professional team Nordby played for before retiring was Olympique Lyonnais in Lyon, France. After her retirement as a player, she joined Lillestrøm SK as a goalkeeper coach.
Jessica Landström, a player for the Swedish National Team and Damallsvenskan club Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC. She publicly came out in November of 2008 in an article for QX Magazine. She scored the winning goal at the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup in a game against Colombia, advancing Sweden to semi-finals. Landström was recognized as a Breakthrough Player of the Year at the 2008 Swedish Football Awards.
Thomas Hitzlsperger, the German National Midfielder who played for world class soccer clubs such as Everton, and West Ham United came out as gay just a month before the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. "I'm coming out about my homosexuality because I want to move the discussion about homosexuality among professional sports people forwards" said Hitzlsperger.
Megan Rapinoe, a midfielder for the U.S. National Soccer Team and Seattle Reign FC in the National Women's Soccer League came out less than a month from the 2012 London Olympics. “To be honest I’ve been thinking about it for a while, trying to find a time that works, now leading up to the Olympics, people want to get personal stories,” she says. “Our team in general is in a position where people look up to us and kids look up to us. I embrace that and I think I have a huge LGBT following. I think it’s pretty cool, the opportunity that I have, especially in sports. There’s really not that many out athletes. It’s important to be out and to live my life that way.”
Rapinoe was the first ever soccer player who scored a goal from a corner kick at the Olympic Games. She is also an advocate for the LGBT community. Her involvement includes organizations such as Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and Athlete Ally. In 2013 she was recognized with Board of Directors Award by the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center.
Sarah Walsh, a retired member of the Australia women's national association football team also played professionally for the Western Sydney Wanderers FC in Australia's W-League. Sarah Walsh represented Australia at the 2004 Olympics, 2006 AFC Women's Asian Cup and the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup. As of 2012, Walsh has been in a relationship with a fellow out soccer player, Megan Rapinoe.
Anton Hysén, Swedish footballer who plays in the National Premier Soccer League for Myrtle Beach FC. He won the seventh season of a Swedish show, Let's Dance making him the first openly gay competitor to win this competition. In March of 2011, came out in a Swedish Football Magazine, Offside. Daily Mail has described him as the "first high-profile Swedish footballer to announce that he is gay"
Jaiyah Saelua of American Samoa became the first openly transgender person to play in a FIFA World Cup qualifier in 2011. Her performance in the match was instrumental to breaking the American Samoan team's losing streak by clearing a goal-bound ball from the opposing team and preserving their first ever win. Saelua was featured in the recently released documentary Next Goal Wins.