Portland Thorns’ draft pick Sydny Nasello said left-wing politics cost her an opportunity in the NWSL during an interview with Tampa Bay radio show “Beckles & Recher” on Thursday.
In the hours after the Thorns drafted Nasello 13th overall on Dec. 18, fans raised immediate concerns about the forward’s past social media activity. The Rose City Riveters, Portland’s main supporters group, wrote, “Fascism, racism, homophobia, transphobia- we are against these” in response to controversial tweets Nasello had liked or shared. Nasello and the Thorns both quickly apologized for the incident, but it was later reported that Nasello would not play for the Thorns in 2022.
On Thursday, Nasello said it didn’t take long for her draft day to go “downhill.”
“Some social media instances were brought up about some past likes and retweets that were a little bit political that Portland fans didn’t like,” she said on the radio show. “So I received a lot of heat and backlash, a lot of DMs, a lot of tweets, alot of name-calling going on. I reached out to Portland to discuss it with them.
“They seemed pretty supportive about it. They were kind of just telling me, ‘Oh, don’t worry about it. It’s just a rough introduction to the pro game. It’ll be OK. People have different beliefs, different views. Just let the waters cool.’ Then, a couple of days later, I was told I wasn’t going to be brought in for the 2022 season. So everything just went downhill from there.”
She said that some of the messages she received on Twitter included words that she didn’t even recognize (“I had to look them up,” she said), and she went private for protection.
“All of a sudden, my phone is blowing up with notifications on Twitter,” Nasello said. “It’s all these words, ‘You racist, you turf, you bigot. You’re not welcome here. You’re a transphobe, you’re a homophobe.’
“I didn’t go private because I was hiding anything. I went private because I couldn’t have thousands of notifications blowing up my phone.”
Nasello said she wasn’t forced to apologize, but that the Thorns did help her draft and proofread the message.
“It was something I wanted to do,” she said. “But I didn’t want to apologize in the wrong way. I didn’t want my words to be misinterpreted. So I talked to my social media manager over at Portland and what her take was on it. They proofread my apology and said, ‘Perfect. Send it out and then get off social media and let the waters cool from there.'”
When asked about what she had learned from the incident, Nasello said she’d probably still have her spot in the NWSL if it weren’t for social media.
“I learned that social media is a scary place,” she said. “So it’s a dream that was stripped from me just because I have different political beliefs. And the NWSL is so one-sided in that aspect that I think it’s sad and it’s disheartening to see. Because you can be an advocate for politics, but only if you’re on one side. And if you have a voice to the other side, then you’re not welcome in that league, is the perception I got from the fans, especially in the city of Portland. Maybe in other cities it’s not like that, depending on the politics.”
Nasello will be playing the upcoming season in Spain, according to “Beckles & Recher.”