NWSL Clubs hosts Pride Games vs. Anti-LGBTQ + Jaelene Daniels

NWSL Clubs hosts Pride Games vs. Anti-LGBTQ + Jaelene Daniels

  • North Carolina Courage advocate Jaylene Daniels is known for her public espousal of anti-LGBT stances.
  • The club was heavily criticized for re-signing the three-time NWSL champion after her retirement.
  • This year, a quarter of the NWSL clubs will host Pride matches when Daniels and the Courage play.

North Carolina Courage – one of the most decorated clubs in the Women’s National Football League – faced constant backlash after signing a player who boasts a history of homophobia.

The Courage has apologized “to everyone we’ve hurt, especially those who belong to the LGBTQIA+ community” after agreeing to a one-year deal with advocate Jillen Daniels late last year, but stopped short of releasing the controversial site, even with the backlash that was sparked by the scrutiny of the site. Ad followed. . A devout Christian, Daniels is best known – formerly known by her maiden name, Hinkle. Withdrew from the women’s national team camp in the United States Because of her religious distaste for wearing an LGBTQ + Pride shirt with rainbow badges.

Now, all 12 NWSL franchises — including North Carolina — are gearing up to celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride with themed games and programming. And while The Courage is scheduled to play a third of the Pride’s league games, it remains unclear if Daniels will take part in the festive festivities.

Portland Thorns fans - known as the Rose City Riveters - regularly fly flags of pride at the NWSL games.

NWSL fans regularly fly flags of pride at matches.

Troy Warinen – USA TODAY Sports


Should Daniels sit in all four competitions — the North Carolina tied with the Portland Thorns in the most pride competitions for all NWSL teams — the guts would be without the starting left-back with 18% of the regular season roster.

North Carolina representatives did not respond to Insider’s repeated requests for comment on whether Daniels plans to play in the Pride Games. But the club’s website specifies that “courage players will wear Pride shirts” and “Pride shirts before the game” – which Daniels has previously refused to do – as they host Angel City’s Pride game on July 15.

Although North Carolina has hosted Pride-themed games in the past, Courage players only began wearing Pride jerseys in 2021 – the year Daniels retired – so the controversial star hasn’t faced such a situation in her football career. . Former North Carolina star Lynn Williams, who has since joined the Kansas City stream, suggested North Carolina’s delay in implementing the rainbow numbers was a mistake.

“I think I can speak on behalf of the team to say: ‘We should have done this – wearing the Pride numbers – much sooner,'” Williams said after last year’s Pride game, at IndyWeek.

North Carolina Courage players wore rainbow numbers on their jerseys during a game in June 2021.

North Carolina Courage players wore rainbow numbers on their jerseys during a game in June 2021.

Andy Meade / ISI Images / Getty Images


Three opposing clubs – Racing Louisville FC, Washington Spirit and OL Reign – are set to host North Carolina State in their own Pride-themed competitions in their stadiums. Two of these three privileges denied deliberately choosing courage, while the third did not directly address the question.

A Racing Louisville spokesperson told Insider that the club’s Pride Night game was long scheduled for its first home game in June – the fourth Saturday – which coincidentally coincides with North Carolina’s only visit to Lynn Family Stadium. OL Reign offered a similar explanation for choosing the July 1 match against Courage for their Pride match; The chain dedicated its only home game in June to “focusing on Juneteenth,” but has scheduled her Pride Match on her next trip to Lumen Field.

“Our opponents are absolutely not taken into account when planning our game themes,” Michelle Haines, Reign’s vice president of marketing and ticketing told Insider.

Representatives for The Spirit have not directly spoken about how the Washington, DC-based club will organize its promotional schedule. However, details of Washington’s Pride activities – including the Pride’s corner flags and captain’s arm bands – are listed on the team’s website.

A natural rainbow appears over the field before the Kansas City Pride game against the Washington Spirit.

A natural rainbow appears over the field before the Kansas City Pride game against the Washington Spirit.

William Purnell USA Today Sports


Daniels’ anti-LGBTQ+ views became popular in 2017 – after she established herself as a cornerstone of Team North Carolina – when she was Cited for “personal reasons” to decline her invitation to the USWNT camp in Europe. Many current and former national team stars are publicly known as LGBTQ+, and the USWNT has supported these longtime gay players and fans by donning rainbow-laden jerseys in celebration of Pride Month in June.

This choice halted Daniels’ career with the national team, and a little later she made it clear that the decision stemmed from her religious views.

“I felt so condemned to my soul that it wasn’t my duty to wear this shirt,” Daniels revealed on Christian’s TV show The 700 Club. “I gave myself only three days to research and pray and determine what [God] He was asking me to do in that case.”

“I knew in my soul that I was doing the right thing,” she added. “I knew I was obedient.”

Jaylene Daniels of the USWNT.

Daniels – then Heinkel – with the USWNT.

AP Photo / Ralph Freso


NWSL supporters did not respond to the admission, which came shortly after Daniels tweeted that “this world is turning away more and more from God” when gay marriage was legalized in the United States. She was routinely booed in subsequent matches, with some fans even putting up banners mocking the “personal reasons” for which she missed a chance to beat the national team.

However, her work with courage was not overwhelmingly questioned until she came out of retirement and re-signed with the club in 2021. The franchise appears to have turned a new page in her absence – firing a long-time abusive coach, renewing her commitment to social justice initiatives, and more.

Many fans believe Daniels’ views on LGBTQ+ rights don’t meet North Carolina’s new limit. After all, how can a club expect someone to identify gay people as “Lost, Rejected, Abandoned” – Someone who publicly refused to wear a pride shirt – to treat their LGBTQ+ teammates with dignity?

Daniels has played in each of Courage’s regular season games so far, including his last on May 29. The team’s first of four pride-themed games are scheduled for Saturday against Louisville.

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