North Carolina Courage has apologized to fans upset by the recent signing of Jaelene Daniels, the player who made headlines for refusing to call up the United States Women’s National Team for Gay Pride jerseys on the theme of the rainbow.
Courage announced on Sunday that the club have brought back Daniels, who retired last year after playing seven seasons in the National Women’s Football League. But some fans were quick to criticize the move due to Daniels’ previous opposition to gay rights.
Daniels, who performed under the Hinkle surname until last year, made headlines when she turned down a USWNT summons in 2017 because she refused to wear a themed swimsuit. of the rainbow for gay pride month. The jerseys, which were worn by all USWNT members, were then auctioned off to benefit a non-profit gay rights organization.
“In response to the recent news of Jaelene Daniels’ new signing, we as a club recognize the impact of this announcement on our community,” North Carolina Courage said Wednesday in an unsigned open letter to fans. “We have spent the past few days reading your messages and reflecting on our actions. We are truly sorry for all those we have hurt, especially those in the LGBTQIA + community.
“The decision to re-sign Jaelene was not taken lightly and included important conversations between the organization’s leadership and Jaelene. The priority expressed in these conversations is the safety of our players and the maintenance of a inclusive and respectful space for the whole team. “
Le Courage did not indicate that they plan to have Daniels join the squad for the 2022 season, but said they had “had a productive conversation about the expectations we have set for our entire squad.” , which includes “unreserved respect and inclusion”. The club will continue to host pride nights, partner with initiatives to support the gay community and “outfit players with custom pride shirts,” the statement said.
Daniels published his own letter on Wednesday night, writing that his love for his Courage teammates “has never been based on who they are”.
“I remain committed to my faith and my desire for people to know that my love for them is not based on their belief system or their sexuality,” she said. written in a press release which came out immediately after Courage’s statement. “I pray and firmly believe that my teammates know how much I treasure, respect and love them.”
Daniels declined the USWNT’s appeal in 2017 for what the American Football Federation called “personal reasons.” She then appeared on the Christian talk show “The 700 Club” to clarify that she was in opposition to the rainbow-themed jersey.
“I felt so convinced in my mind that it wasn’t my job to wear this jersey,” she said at the time. “I gave myself three days to simply seek and pray and determine what [God] asked me to do it in this situation. This wasn’t the first time Daniels has weighed in on gay rights – in 2015, after same-sex marriage became legal in the United States, she spoke out against the Supreme Court ruling.
Daniels, a left-back, was called up to the USWNT again after the July 2018 controversy. She made the preliminary roster for the Tournament of Nations but was excluded from the final squad due to “the experience. , depth and versatility “of the other players in the roster, said coach Jill Ellis.
Daniels said her choice to decline the 2017 appeal meant that she was “essentially giving up on the dream little girls dream of all their lives,” which has resulted in rejection from USWNT members.
“Your religion was never the problem,” said USWNT guard Ashlyn Harris written in 2019 after Daniels’ story went viral after the Women’s World Cup. “The problem is your intolerance and you are homophobic. You do not belong to a sport that aims to unite and bring people together.”
“Don’t dare say that our team is ‘not a welcoming place for Christians.’ You weren’t around long enough to know what this team stood for, “added Harris. “This is actually an insult to the Christians on our team.”
Daniels played in North Carolina for four seasons under coach Paul Riley, who supported her amid backlash to her television remarks. Riley was fired in September, after public allegations from two former players of sexual misconduct, and he was replaced by Sean Nahas.