It’s been a whirlwind week for Danish women’s national team star Pernille Harder, who is now getting some official recognition for a year of excellence both on and off the field. On Wednesday night she received the Sports Award by the Danish Rainbow Awards in Copenhagen, followed up on Thursday by winning both UEFA’s Women’s Player of the Year as well as the Women’s Champions League Forward of the Season.
Harder, recently signed to Chelsea FC, brought her former team Wolfsburg to the Champions League finals this year, narrowly losing out to the defending champions from Lyon. Upon receiving her UEFA awards on Thursday, Harder said, “I’m super honored to achieve this award, it’s one of the biggest awards you can achieve individually so I’m super happy and very proud.”
Not to be overlooked however is the significance of Harder as an out member of the LGBTQ community, especially looking back on a year that’s been full of historic visibility on the world stage — between the 40 publicly out players, coaches and trainers participating in the 2019 Women’s World Cup and Megan Rapinoe’s viral power pose, one moment that especially stood out in Europe was the sideline kiss between Swedish national team player Pernille Harder and her girlfriend Magdalena Eriksson of the Swedish women’s national team.
The optics of this small but intimate moment made big waves in Harder’s home country, where 41 percent of LGBTQ-identified Danes polled admit to avoiding holding their partner’s hand in public, for fear of harassment or violence. On Wednesday evening this issue was taken up by the Danish Rainbow Awards, delayed since the spring due to COVID-19, which focused this year on the freedom of LGBTQ couples to be publicly affectionate.
“Pernille Harder has repeatedly made a name for herself on the field, but Pernille and her girlfriend Magdalena caught the world’s attention when they kissed on the sidelines at the World Cup in France,” read the award rationale. “Pernille uses her status and influence in support of LGBT+ rights at an international level.”
Footballers @PernilleMHarder and @MagdaEricsson, who famously made headlines for kissing after a match at the 2019 World Cup, say that the reaction to that moment inspired them to continue to push for equality and LGBTQ+ rights in sport https://t.co/5mICHFXw8x @CommonGoalOrg pic.twitter.com/Gzs3nMEuFn— Guardian US (@GuardianUS) August 8, 2019
Another athlete, Danish footballer Viktor Fischer, was also honored with the Straight Ally of the Year award for his unequivocal condemnation of the anti-gay chants and slurs directed towards him in April last year. “Viktor Fischer started a minor rainbow revolution on the football field this past summer when he spoke out against homophobic shouting from spectators,” stated the Rainbow Awards. “His appeal had clear consequences and contributed to the fight against homophobia in the sports world.”