The Best and Gayest Teams in the 2023 Women’s World Cup

Women’s World Cup feature photo by Justin Setterfield – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

As we have established, The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup looks set to be the gayest ever, but this post is to remind you that also football is being played and it is very much time for sports queers queers across the globe to rejoice at getting up at weird times for the next month, all for the love of the beautiful game.

While many editions of yore have centred on dubious conditions of the event, it feels like the struggles in the run-up to this year’s competition have been to do with the state of women’s football globally. Yes, FIFA still can’t bring itself to let players outwardly support the gays, and there was a standoff over European TV rights, but it seems a far cry from the hobbling astroturf pitches of Canada 2015.

What we have seen in the four years since the last World Cup, though, is women’s teams around the globe fighting for equal pay, fair treatment, and even just basic recognition of their status as elites athletes. Think the USWNT landmark collective bargaining agreement, England’s lionesses using their Euro’s victory to force equal access for girls to play football at school, Spain’s players boycotting the national team because of sub-par standards, France’s stand-off with their bullying coach, Canada’s strikes, Nigeria and South Africa’s squads not even getting paid.

The message is clear: women and non-binary footballers have had enough of this shit. The tournament will undoubtedly showcase the world’s best footballing talent, but the value of a deep run goes beyond the sporting plaudits for every team competing. It’s about making a statement that women’s sport is here to stay and ready for the recognition it deserves. 

Perhaps feeling the heat the most will be the hosting nations, Australia and New Zealand. The Aussies in particular will have a point to prove; in a sports-mad country where soccer has to compete with other football codes, the Matildas’ golden generation of players have an equally golden opportunity to elevate the status of women’s soccer at home. Without doubt, both hosting nations will be putting on a spectacular show, and hopefully the most successful World Cup to date.

Who will triumph in this greatest (and gayest) of sporting events? I’m going to pick out my teams to watch, and I have every faith that you will shout at me in the comments with dissenting opinions!


My top pick for the tournament, and only partly because they have the largest number of out players in their squad! If they can cope with the pressure of competing at home, there’s every chance the Aussie’s can ride a wave of home support to the final. With an exceptionally talented squad anchored by star striker Sam Kerr, the Aussie’s have been hitting peak form in the run-up to the tournament, with victories over higher-ranking England, Spain and France this year. Beyond Kerr is a sparkling starting lineup, with players that have been lighting up England’s WSL in particular. They haven’t been handed the kindest draw, with a tricky group including Olympic champs Canada, and a likely last 16 match-up of England or Denmark. If they can get a convincing win on the board early, I hope the Matildas gather the confidence to go all the way. 


USA look like a team that’s been forced to transition to a new crop of talent perhaps a tad earlier than they’d have liked, owing to injuries to a number of established stars, Mallory Swanson probably the biggest hit. I don’t read too much into their historic three-game losing streak to European opponents at the end of last year. That’s partly because when I watched them play England I was absolutely terrified whenever Sophia Smith and Trinity Rodman got on the ball. 

Who cares if Vlatko has no idea what the best midfield lineup is? History has shown that Team USA can triumph in pretty much any circumstance , and there are enough experienced players on the squad to guide the youngsters, lot least Gay Aunty Megan. With an arguably easier ride in their half of the draw, it would really be a massive shock if they weren’t in the final.


Euro finalists last year, the German team look more than ever set to return to their World Cup winning ways. With a bunch of young players like Lena Oberdorf, Klara Bühl and Jule Brand establishing themselves with a ton of caps already, plus veterans like goal-machine Alex Popp, Germany are looking like a very solid package, despite a recent shock loss to Zambia. Their round of 16 draw looks very tricky against either Brazil or France, followed by a potential grudge rematch versus England in the quarters, so progress is by no means easy for the Germans, but they have to go in as decent favourites.


After the euphoria of a Euro win on home soil last year, reality has been biting this year for the England squad, with injury struggles denting what might have been a more confident run-up to the World Cup. The loss of captain Leah Williamson will be felt massively; while there are plenty of defensively excellent players that will take her spot, her passing from the back and exceptional positioning are harder to replace (FYI, as a central defender, Williamson made precisely zero tackles at the Euros, such was her uncanny knack for being in the right place!). Just as tough are the absences of attackers Beth Mead and Fran Kirby, and you feel that England have gone from being a team with excellent strength in depth to perhaps not having so many of the options available that made them such a potent force last year. I fully expect them to get out of a relatively straightforward group, but with Australia or Canada as their likely last-16 opponents, then potentially Germany in the quarter-finals, they really will have to find their best form again to build on their European triumph.


It’s hard to gauge exactly where Spain are at the moment, after a tumultuous year that’s seen walkouts by players, demands for better conditions, and ultimately little change after long-time under-achieving coach Jorge Vilda retained the support of the Spanish federation. While some of the players that withdrew in protest have returned to the squad, many off the back of Champions League victory with Barcelona, several haven’t. Sadly, this includes Mapi León and her very gay hair. Most significantly, captain and Ballon D’or winner Alexia Putellas is in the squad after recovering from an ACL injury, although it remains to be seen if she’s back to full fitness. On paper, Spain should be one of the strongest teams in the tournament, and being in the “easy” side of the draw, this could be the time for them to make good on their promise.


I feel like France have for so long been the under-achievers of women’s football, especially considering how packed their squad is with multiple Champion’s League winning players. It looked like they’d reached peak implosion earlier this year when captain Wendie Renard, plus star forwards Kadidiatou Diani and Marie-Antoinette Katoto withdrew from the squad because of the toxic environment conjured by coach Corinne Diacre. As opposed to several other federations that backed their dodgy coaches, the French actually heeded their players, sacked Diacre and brought in Hervé Renard, fresh off a decent showing as Saudia Arabia coach at the 2022 Men’s World Cup. Initial signs are good that Renard has got the team back on board, and if he can finally get the best out of an undoubtedly talented group of players, they can beat any team on their day.


In a changing-of-the-guard moment, Marta will be playing in her final World Cup, and there’s no doubt that Debinha will be stepping up as the new talisman for the Seleção. Coach Pia Sundhage has had four years to get the squad into shape, and there are good signs they have the potential with their new generation to get back to the form that took them to multiple World Cup and Olympic finals. Women’s leagues in Brazil are just starting to get momentum, and a big showing in Australia and New Zealand could give them the platform they need to amplify their efforts at home. 


Many of Canada’s Olympic-winning team return for the World Cup, including the apparently immortal Christine Sinclair, back for her sixth tournament and undoubtedly looking to extend her international goal record. Canada’s strength in recent years comes predominantly from their excellent team ethic, and with excellent (and out) head coach Bev Priestman still at the helm, plus fire in their belly from how badly the Canadian federation have treated them, I expect the Canadians will be causing trouble in the knockout rounds, even if their draw makes it tricky to go all the way. 

Debutantes and Lower Seeds

With the competition expanding to 32 teams, we’ll be getting to see some exciting new players on the world stage. While much of the media focus will be on the US and European teams, as well as the Aussies, I am totally ready for major upsets to rock the boat! 

Debutantes Haiti are rammed with many players that cut their teeth in the US college system. Melchie Dumornay is widely considered their standout player, and I’ll be keeping a keen eye on her in Haiti’s opener with England. Zambia’s star Barbra Banda tore Germany apart in a recent friendly, and could cause an upset in group C. The Philippines may struggle in their group, but we will absolutely be looking forward to out captain Tahnai Annis leading her team.

Returning teams that may cause a stir include Jamaica, with the audaciously free-scoring Bunny Shaw, who narrowly missed taking home the Golden Boot in the WSL this year. Nigeria’s Super Falcons have qualified for every single World Cup, and in a tricky group B I can see several teams taking points from each other that could give them an opening to progress.

Which teams and players are you looking out for? Who will be causing the biggest shock both on and off the pitch? Chime in below!

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!


Sally lives in the UK. Her work has been featured in a Korean magazine about queer people and their pets, and a book about haunted prisons. She never intended for any of this to happen.

Sally has written 79 articles for us.


  1. I’m biased of course and hope Germany will win, but I’m really excited for this world cup! This year there are so many teams to watch out for. South Korea has some amazing players

  2. Here is my flowchart for how I decide who to cheer for each game: Spoiler alert: it is never the US until my girlfriend gets sad.

    I really want Brazil to take it all.

    My runner-up wish would be for more girlfriends or ex-girlfriends to play against each other, but too many of them are on different sides of the bracket and only have one chance to meet. Foord vs. McCabe is the only one I know for sure. I’d love a chaos World Cup featuring Kerr vs. Mewis (Australia/US), Daly vs. Mewis (England/US), Bjorn vs. Galli (Sweden/Italy), Harder vs. Eriksson (Denmark/Sweden), Van de Donk vs. Carpenter (Netherlands/Australia), Kennedy vs. Spencer (Australia/Jamaica), Roord vs. Engen (Netherlands/Norway), Zadorsky vs. Ayane (Canada/Morocco), Buchanan vs. Spencer (Canada/Jamaica), Sousa vs. Sheridan (Brazil/Canada), Walti vs. Foord (Switzerland/Australia). In an ideal world, the Spanish federation would have fired Vilda and Mapi Leon would play so we could have Leon vs. Engen (Spain vs. Norway) AND Crnogorcevic vs. Leon (Switzerland/Spain).

Contribute to the conversation...

Yay! You've decided to leave a comment. That's fantastic. Please keep in mind that comments are moderated by the guidelines laid out in our comment policy. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation and thanks for stopping by!