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Li Ying leaves a mark on Chinese society but will it hurt her career

Li Ying has been an important part of China’s womens national team for many years earning over 100 caps in that time, she’s represented China at multiple major international tournaments including the World Cup, but her sexuality is what’s currently making headlines. She recently made her relationship with a female internet celebrity public, becoming China’s most prolific LGBTQ female athlete.

June is Pride month and Li isn’t the only athlete to make headlines, with Carl Nassib being the first active NFL player to come out & Japanese footballer Kumi Yokoyama coming out as being transgender. Unlike the others, reception for Li’s announcement hasn’t been overly positive locally. Her “announcement” went viral but she deleted it shortly after, many suspect due to outside pressure.

Li, who last represented the national team in early 2020 and had scored multiple goals in China’s initial qualifiers, wasn’t part of the squad that faced Korea to qualify for the Olympics and wasn’t picked for the team that will go to Tokyo.

There was plenty of support for her announcement, including popular Chinese football reporters who recognized homosexuality in women’s football was nothing new & that she was brave for her act. However, there was plenty of negative feedback about her decision to go public. Li, who is only 28 & one of the most capped active players with more goals than stars like Wang Shuang, is now on the outside looking in. Her boldness could potentially be her downfall as it might be hard to get back into the good graces of a more “traditional” manager as Jia Xiuqian and, more importantly, the higher ups at the CFA.

Brandon Chemers aka B. Cheng aka A Modern Lei Feng – is a name which may be familiar to many in the Chinese blogosphere. He currently serves as Editor-in-Chief for Wild East Football and is one of the lonely souls writing about Chinese football in English for the last 10 years. Chemers' credentials are second to none – his former blog focused not only on the fortunes of his beloved Beijing Guoan FC, but a multitude of other aspects of Beijing life. He’s deservedly built a reputation in the Chinese blogosphere as an insightful observer of not only Chinese football, but also the wider picture of life in modern China and its many layers. For WEF, beyond writing about Guoan, he often focuses on fan culture and the business of Chinese football.

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