Jaelene Daniels, a defender in the National Women’s Soccer League, did not participate in the North Carolina Courage’s game Friday night after refusing to wear a pride jersey, the team confirmed.
A team spokesperson told media before the start of the game that Daniels, 29, would not be on the field over for Friday’s contest against the Washington Spirit due to her decision not to wear the Courage’s pride-themed jerseys.
“Jaelene will not be rostered tonight as she has made the decision to not wear our Pride jersey,” the statement said, via ESPN. “While we’re disappointed with her choice, we respect her right to make that decision for herself.
“We’re excited to celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community with our fans, players and staff tonight and look forward to hosting our first ever Pride Festival before kickoff.”
Daniels, who signed a one-year deal with the Courage in December, previously turned down an offer to play for the women’s national team in 2017 after refusing to wear pride jerseys, according to Sports Illustrated.
The club released a statement following news of her signing after facing harsh criticism.
“The decision to re-sign Jaelene was not made lightly and included significant conversations between organization leadership and Jaelene,” the open letter to fans stated, via ESPN. “The priority expressed in those conversations is the safety of our players and maintaining an inclusive, respectful space for the entire team.”
Daniels later released her own statement addressing the controversy on social media.
“I remain committed to my faith and my desire for people to know that my love for them isn’t based on their belief system or sexuality,” she wrote. “I pray and firmly believe that my teammates know how much I cherish them, respect them, and love them.”
She has not commented yet on Friday’s incident.