"You can't win the World Cup without gays on your side". These were the words of US footballer Megan Rapinoe. Controversial words or just stating the glaringly obvious..? The same could very well be true of the men's game but we don't know because no male players dare to come out.
The 'pride' more associated with the men's game has nothing to do with homosexuality but is instead all to do with testosterone fuelled aggression. The overwhelming image of the male game is that of the drunken lout bellowing "It's coming home" when clearly it isn't. Personally, I prefer "I'm coming out" the anthem written by Nile Rodgers and Bernie Edwards. If only the men could sing that instead.
I read on one of my LGBT forums about an incident shortly before the Champions League final between Spurs and Liverpool. Apparently on the London Underground about an hour before the kick off some Spurs fans (obviously, from the shirts they were wearing) boarded the tube train carrying a large metal bin they must have stolen from somewhere. As the train pulled away they started to smash the bin repeatedly into the ceiling of the carriage and didn't stop until the lights were smashed and debris was falling everywhere.
One elderly gentleman stood up and challenged them "What's that about?" he shouted angrily. One of the louts, chest puffed out, grabbed the badge on his shirt and pulled it outwards "Pride" he cried.
If only he'd prefixed that with "male".
What is there to be proud about in mindless vandalism..? You tell me fellas, because I just don't get it.
"I'm coming out would be a fitting soundtrack to the Women's World Cup we've all enjoyed these last three weeks. The tournament is now firmly fixed in the footballing calendar as a major event but it's also paving the way for gay professionals and progress. Women's football - and women's sport in general - has come to be the place where being gay is recognised, indeed celebrated, as being integral to success.
As Rapinoe put it; "There has never been a better time to be gay and play football. Go Gays.." she said after the USA beat France in the Quarter Final where she scored two goals. "For me, to be gay and fabulous during Pride month at the World Cup is special."
Rapinoe's very public spat with Trump has done her standing as a powerful advocate for gay pride no harm at all. Trump couldn't resist responding to her insistence that, if invited she "wouldn't go to the f***ing White House." He accused her of disrespect. I say, how can any gay man or lesbian respect a repulsive excuse for a human being like Trump?
Megan Rapinoe's talismanic performances and attitudes have meant that the USA have flown the Rainbow Flag highest at the world cup. Five players in the US team and the coach, Jill Ellis are out and proud. But they are far from the exception. LGBT websites have totted up 40 out lesbian players at the world cup.
The total figure of out gay male players in Russia last year was nil.
Those at the top of the men's game have tried to encourage acceptance and celebrate the contribution of gay players to the game via the "rainbow laces" campaign but it's a small gesture and we (the LGBT community) feel that those taking part only do so for the sake of appearances.... in an embarrassed sort of way. Clearly the men's game has a long way to go.
Last year the anti-discrimination organisation Kick It Out reported a 9% increase in homophobic abuse at men's matches. I dread to think what would happen if the fans had an openly gay player on the pitch in front of them to vent their rage and aggression on.
The contrast with the women's game is vast which is why this tournament is so refreshing. Why is the difference so stark..?
Why does women's sport (I played women's rugby at university in a team where more than half our team were openly out. 9 out of 15 players..!!) visibly celebrate gay pride while the men's game is, despite the efforts of its organisers, still stuck in the closet..? Perhaps it is because women interact in a way that men don't.
Former Manchester United player Naomi Hartley said that she always felt comfortable being out among the team and believes it is down to the female mentality of women supporting each other which is so integral to the game.
When so many men (particularly here in UK) desperately want to see women's football fail, we have to draw on each other's strength all the more.
Dr Keina Yoshida, lesbian, footballer and human rights barrister says that to her the reason is simple. It's male attitudes. "The women's game has always been gay friendly and the men's game has always been homophobic. The reason for this is the entrenched attitudes of male players and supporters."
It is true that this women's world cup has not been a success in all areas. While it has overcome some disparities, others remain. Such as prize money.
The CEO of Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) John Didulica is lobbying FIFA for the women's world cup to be awarded the same prize money as the men's version. Last month he secured changes which will see women players in Australia's W League paid at the same minimum rate as those in the men's A League.
Now he and the PFA are challenging FIFA to offer parity on prize money at world cup level, calling for an immediate doubling of total prize money to $US 82 million.
The pay gap is staggering. Women's teams are competing for just 7.5% of the amount the men competed for at the world cup in Russia.
OK... I understand the arguments.... women don't bring in the same amount of sponsorship, gate receipts or TV money. That is accepted but it misses the point. If it wanted to the football world could redistribute its revenue to equalise prize money. Wimbledon doesn't allocate prize money according to which games are viewed. Billie Jean King should be made a saint for the work she did on behalf of female tennis players.
This women's World Cup has made tremendous advances for women's sport in general and football in particular. It has provided trigger moments that have pushed the door down where homophobia is concerned and given us a foot in the door where prize money is concerned.
There is still a long way to go, but we are on the way. How the men's game sets about rationalising its attitude towards gay players I can't say. Hopefully the example of the women's game will have some effect on bringing male attitudes into the 21st century but that's up to them.
Prize money is an issue to be tackled and tackle it we will no matter how long it takes.
Our mantra is: Never quit. Never give in. Never stop fighting for what we want and deserve.
And we won't.