Chelsea's Sam Kerr (left) poses with girlfriend Gotham FC's Kristie Mewis after victory in the Vitality Women's FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium, London. Picture date: Sunday May 15, 2022. | Photo by John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images

The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup is finally upon us. Hosted jointly this year by Australia and New Zealand, the tournament is slated to kick off on Thursday and running through the final on Aug. 20. It will be a glorious month to be a gay fan.

This year is the ninth edition of the Women’s World Cup, and it will be the first time that 32 nations are competing, up from 24 since the tournament was last held in 2019. Fittingly, we’ve also seen the number of out LGBTQ athletes competing also more than double, up to at least 94 at this time — more than 12% of the 736 players competing.

For those who need a primer on what to expect from the field of players this year with a focus on some of the queer storylines, look no further.

The hosts

Australia and New Zealand are sharing hosting duties this year, but that doesn’t mean the Matildas and Football Ferns will be pulling any punches against each other if they make it out of Groups B and A respectively. In addition to being first time-hosts of the tournament, both teams are vying for their maiden World Cup title — or at least to make it past the group stage for the first time in New Zealand’s case.

Last time at the 2019 Women’s World Cup, the Netherlands lay claim to the honor of being the team with the most out LGBTQ players, but this year Australia boasts 10 out players and overtakes them for the title of Gayest Team 2k23. Team captain and all around national treasure Sam Kerr will be leading the charge, and with any luck fans will get more cute moments between her and girlfriend Kristie Mewis, who plays for the U.S. women’s national team, as the tournament progresses.

Girlfriends Kristie Mewis and Sam Kerr embrace at the FA Cup Final.

The USWNT title defense

The U.S. defeated the Netherlands 2–0 in the 2019 final to win two back-to-back World Cups, and this year they’ll be aiming for a third and looking to show the world why their program is the most successful in international women’s soccer history with a record four Women’s World Cup titles (1991, 1999, 2015 and 2019).

Former captain Megan Rapinoe has announced that this year will be her last with the team before retiring from professional play at the end of the NWSL season, so this is likely our last chance to see one of the greatest American soccer players of all time in national team kit reds, whites and blues. Rapinoe ranked second in our Power 100 list of most powerful LGBTQ people in sports.

Megan Rapinoe of USA and Jessica Fishlock of Wales.

Vamos Brasil!

With nine out players, Brazil has the second most queer representation of any nation in the tournament this year, another hopeful symbol of acceptance in a country where President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has also reaffirmed the government’s support of the Brazilian LGBTQ community since taking office this year.

One of the out players is Marta, the GOAT of her generation if not the history of the game, will be playing in her sixth World Cup — only one shy of her compatriot Formiga’s record. Standout striker Debinha — another out player — is a superstar on Brazil’s already stellar roster, and is poised to take on Marta’s mantle after her retirement.

Debinha, left, and Marta are two out players on the Brazilian women’s national team.

Underdog debuts

The tournament features a multitude of new faces with the debut of eight different countries: Haiti, Morocco, Panama, the Philippines, Portugal, Ireland, Vietnam and Zambia. Notably, Africa will have four representatives for the first time in the competition’s history (Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia).

Ireland’s historic entry into the tournament marks another triumph for out midfielder Sinead Farrelly, whose national team debut and 2023 return to the NWSL come more than six years after retiring from soccer in the wake of systemic homophobia within the league, which the Athletic first reported on in 2021. If you’re looking for a comeback story to root for, look no further than the courage and resiliency of Farrelly and her Gotham FC teammate Mana Shim.

Sinead Farrelly walks out to a guard of honor from the 1973 Republic of Ireland women’s team before the July women’s international friendly match between Ireland and France in Dublin.

Who’s missing

Injury has unfortunately sidelined some star LGBTQ players such as Vivianne Miedema of the Netherlands and Beth Mead of England as a spate of ACL tears have plagued the women’s game over the past few months.

Additionally, labor disputes have exposed the more systemic setbacks that the players have been facing off the pitch. The Nigerian team has engaged the players union FIFPRO to resolve ongoing issues with their federation with even the threat of a potential boycott of the tournament having been floated. In Spain, only three of the 15 national team players who protested their federation last year have been called up to compete at this year’s World Cup, which means we’ll be missing a number of their stars, including out defender Mapi León.

Mapi León, third from left, is an out player left off Spain’s World Cup team this year.

This author’s completely unbiased pick to win it all

Yes, the Netherlands are missing their star striker Miedema to the aforementioned ACL tear. Yes, I may be more than a little nostalgic for the Dutch men’s team of my formative teen years making it to the World Cup final in 2010 and narrowly losing to Spain — a frustration only compounded by the women’s loss in the 2019 final. Yes, my family may be Dutch and I may or may not be writing this in an orange polyester jersey. Do not allow any of that to temper your faith that this year finally belongs to De Oranje Leeuwinnen!

Both the U.S. and Netherlands play in Group E however, and only one will make it out of the knockout stage, so we’ll get to witness a potentially juicy grudge match even earlier in the tournament than before. So come and join the bandwagon — even America’s official World Cup broadcaster has been caught in 4k rooting for them. Hup Holland Hup!

The Netherlands women’s national team at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup final.

Where to watch

This year’s tournament is 64 games, held in 10 stadiums across nine cities in Australia and New Zealand. For American audiences, opening day of the Women’s World Cup will have you up bright and early (or late depending on where you are) at 3 a.m. EDT or midnight PDT.

In the United States, the World Cup will air on FOX, FS1,, and the FOX Sports App. In Canada, you’ll find the broadcast on TSN, CTV,,, and the TSN and CTV apps.