NC Courage Player Declines to Play in Team’s Pride Night Game
Jaelene Daniels, a defender and forward for the NWSL’s North Carolina Courage, will not play in the team’s Pride Night game against the Washington Spirit on Friday.
A spokesperson said in a statement to WRAL-TV in North Carolina that Daniels made the decision to not wear the team’s Pride jersey.
“While we’re disappointed with her choice, we respect her [Daniels] right to make that decision for herself,” the statement read, per WRAL.com.
While most Pride festivities and celebrations to honor the LGBTQIA community typically take place in June, the team postponed its initial game because of COVID-19 protocols. Currently, North Carolina’s website displays a rainbow theme at the top as part of its excitement to host its first Pride festival ahead of Friday’s game.
Daniels once declined to play for the U.S. women’s national team in 2017 because the team was wearing a Pride jersey.
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Daniels came out of retirement on Dec. 19, 2021, signing a one-year deal with a one-year option to play for the Courage, a move that was widely scrutinized at the time. However, after her signing, the 29-year-old shared a statement discussing her commitment to her faith and “desire” to love people wasn’t “based on their belief system or sexuality.”
“I pray and firmly believe that my teammates know how much I cherish them, respect them and love them,” the statement further added, per WRAL.
Following Daniels’s comments, the team released a statement in December regarding her comments as supporters of the team voiced their concerns.
“We as a club acknowledge the impact this announcement has on our community,” the statement read, per WRAL. “We’ve spent the past few days reading your messages and reflecting on our actions. We are very sorry to all those we have hurt, especially those within the LGBTQIA community.
“The decision to re-sign Jaelene [Daniels] was not made lightly and included significant conversations between organization leadership and Jaelene. The priority expressed in those conversations is the safety of our players and maintaining an inclusive, respectful space for the entire team.”
From 2017 to ’19, Daniels played in 64 matches with the Courage and helped the team win consecutive NWSL titles in ’18 and ’19. After retiring in ’20, Daniels rejoined the professional ranks with North Carolina in ’21 following the birth of her child.
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