Jaelene Daniels has released a statement after her signing by the North Carolina Courage sparked controversy amongst the club’s LGBTQIA+ fan base.
In the statement, Daniels wrote that she feels a lot of joy in returning to the Courage and that her love for those within the organization “has never been based on their identity.”
Sincerely, Jae 🤍 pic.twitter.com/LeF6Jq39hj— Jaelene Daniels (@jaelenedaniels) December 23, 2021
Sincerely, Jae 🤍 pic.twitter.com/LeF6Jq39hj
“My love for each of these women is rooted in who they are as a person,” she wrote. “I believe everyone regardless of gender, ethnicity, beliefs or abilities is worthy of dignity, value and love. They make me a better person, a better player, and a better teammate. My beliefs may call me to live differently, but my love runs deep for all.”
Upon the club announcing the signing, Daniels’ checkered past with the U.S. women’s national team sparked immediate backlash. In 2017, Daniels (then Hinkle) declined a call-up to the USWNT for what was later revealed to be her refusal to wear a jersey honoring members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Daniels said in 2018 that her Christian beliefs prevented her from wearing the jersey, stating that “I knew in my spirit I was doing the right thing.”
In 2019, USWNT goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris called Daniels intolerant and homophobic.
“You don’t belong in a sport that aims to unite and bring people together,” she wrote. “You would never fit into our pack or what this team stands for. Don’t you dare say our team is ‘not a welcoming place for Christians.’ You weren’t around long enough to know what this team stood for. This is actually an insult to the Christians on our team.”
In her statement on Wednesday, Daniels asserted that she remains committed to her faith and her “desire for people to know that my love for them isn’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.”
She then added that she looks forward to “meeting, speaking and growing with more of you – the fans – as this club continues to be one of the best in the world on and off the field.”
The Courage also released a statement on Wednesday, stating that they remain committed to their LGBTQIA+ fanbase and asserting that “significant conversations” were had between leadership and Daniels.