49-year-old Pia Sundhage, the Swedish head coach of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, came out on Swedish television earlier this week. In an interview with TV personality Lasse Bengtsson, Sundhage said, “There has been no problem for me to be openly gay as head coach in the U.S.” She also referred to her current girlfriend, Marie.
In 2007, Sundhage became the first foreign head coach of the U.S. Women’s Team, replacing Greg Ryan. Sundhage has won the 2008 Algarve Cup in Portugal as well as the coveted gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. During her professional soccer career, she played for various Swedish club teams and the Swedish National Team.
Sundhage jons a great roster of current openly queer female American professional athletes, including:
Natasha Kai, U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team
Sheryl Swoopes, formerly Seattle Storm, currently with the Esperides in Greece
Lauren Lappin, U.S. Women’s National Softball Team
Vicky Galindo, U.S. Women’s National Softball Team
Sundhage set a great precedent for women’s professional sports as her being an iconic athlete and successful head coach paves the way for more female athletes and coaches to come out.