Queer football power couple Magdalena Eriksson and Pernille Harder have bid a tearful farewell to Chelsea FC Women.
Swedish captain Eriksson, who has led the team for nearly six years, announced on Thursday (18 May) that her journey as a Chelsea Blue would “come to an end” sometime in the summer.
“I see myself as extremely privileged to have played a part in this great club’s history”, she said.
“It’s been one heck of a journey, and I will carry the memories we’ve created together for the rest of my life. I will miss you all so very much.”
The announcement comes mere days after Chelsea won the Women’s FA Cup final against Manchester United.
The openly lesbian defender is to leave the club with her Danish partner of 9 years and Chelsea forward Pernille Harder.
During her time with the club, Eriksson made 183 appearances on the pitch and bagged 11 trophies over six seasons. Meanwhile, Harder has scored more than 44 goals for the London club over a number of leagues and championships.
“I’d like to thank my teammates, current and old ones,” Eriksson wrote in a statement shared on Twitter. “Thank you for all the good times, all the competitiveness, all the support and all the love.
“You are a bunch of winners, a great group of people who truly know what it takes. Keep looking out for each other and have each other’s backs.”
Harder also thanked fans on Instagram, posting: “To every Chelsea fan around the world, it’s been a dream coming true playing for this amazing club and I’ve loved every single moment along the way.
“Thanks for our unbelievable support throughout the years. It’s been an amazing journey.”
Magdalena Eriksson has a history of LGBTQ+ activism
In their football careers, both Eriksson and Harder have used their relationship to advocate for LGBTQ+ rights in football at a time when homophobia is often rife within the sport.
The couple made headlines during the 2019 Women’s World Cup after a photo of them kissing following Sweden’s win against Canada went viral.
Eriksson told The Guardian at the time that she wasn’t “even aware” the photo had been taken, but thanked fans for the support she received.
“If you look at the photo from the World Cup and the support we got, imagine what a men’s player would have, it would be massive,” she said.
“But it feels like we have to break the norm before that happens, unfortunately. The men’s game has taken a different turn and it’s very difficult for players to come out.“
The pair’s departure has reportedly been linked with a move to German side Bayern Munich in the summer of 2023.