Women’s soccer is a space for and by queer women

The United States Women’s National Team shows off their rainbow jerseys. Photo Courtesy of Jeff Swinger/USA TODAY Sports.

By Allyn Tucker

Boston University News Service

Despite the women’s soccer landscape having a longtime connection to the fight for LGBTQIA+ equality, fans of the United States Women’s National Team and Paris Saint-Germain are expressing their disdain for midfielder Korbin Albert.

After fans discovered homophobic and transphobic rhetoric being spread on Albert’s social media, some have done a deep dive into her online presence. The results, for a player in one of the most inclusive environments in sports, were shocking to many supporters. In a now deleted repost on TikTok, Albert spread misinformed, harmful content urging watchers to view transgender people and members of the LGBTQIA+ community negatively, showing a Christian sermon which said “feeling” that way was wrong.

The unearthed content present on Albert’s social media has caused an uproar among many fans of the USWNT online. Fans are furious about Albert’s prejudice towards the long history of LGBTQIA+ players, coaches and supporters, as well as queer people in general. The most controversial evidence of her harmful views directly targets soccer legend and activist Megan Rapinoe. Albert “liked” an Instagram meme reading “God taking time off performing miracles to make sure Megan Rapinoe sprains her ankle in her final ever game.”

Rapinoe, who tore her Achilles tendon in her retirement match, is the team’s most famous queer player. She has been incredibly outspoken — both while playing and in retirement — in favor of human rights and social issues. Wishing an injury upon any teammate is unacceptable in the world of sports, but celebrating a teammate’s injury resulting in a months-long recovery process is a particularly intense example.

The USWNT and the women’s soccer environment in general has always been a space directly created and impacted by queer women. This is evident with 87 LGBTQIA+ athletes competing in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, amounting to more than 1 in 10 of the athletes. 

After Texas Governor Greg Abbott asked the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate all transgender children and prosecute their parents for abuse in 2022, the team took a stand against his transphobic policy. Set to play a game in Frisco, Texas shortly after, the entire team entered the stadium for the game wearing wristbands that read “protect trans kids.” In addition, players including Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn and Catarina Macario made statements in support of transgender children and their families; offering fans resources to support those affected.

“To deny gender-affirming resources to trans kids and to threaten their parents and guardians with claims of child abuse is MONSTROUS,” Sauerbrunn said on X. 

In addition, the USWNT and their male counterparts partnered with the You Can Play Project in 2017. The project is an organization fighting for equality in sport, to wear and sell jerseys with rainbow numbers, representing the Pride flag, during the entire month of June, which is recognized as pride month. The teams have continued wearing these jerseys every June since, showing their continued support for LGBTQIA+ youth and athletes, and the jerseys have become a staple in the national team kit. 

With all of the support for LGBTQIA+ women in the soccer world, Megan Rapinoe felt it appropriate to issue an indirect response towards Thursday’s uproar. Rapinoe, who is famous for the number 15 that is currently on Albert’s jersey, had an important thing to say.

“To the people who want to hide behind ‘my beliefs’ I would just ask one question, are you making any type of space safer, more inclusive, more whole, any semblance of better, [or] bringing the best out of anyone?… Because if you aren’t, all you believe in is hate… Yours Truly, #15.”

Albert has released a statement apologizing for her actions on social media, stating that “liking and sharing posts that are offensive, insensitive, and hurtful was immature and disrespectful,” and she “truly [believes] that everyone should feel safe and respected everywhere and on all playing fields.”

This is a developing story, and it is unclear whether or not the U.S. Soccer Federation will be taking action regarding the situation. 

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.