Ashlyn Harris, current goalkeeper for the U.S. women’s national soccer team, has labeled professional soccer player Jaelene Hinkle “homophobic” because in 2017 she turned down a spot to join the national team, a decision guided by her Christian faith.
“Hinkle, our team is about inclusion,” Harris said in a tweet last week. “Your religion was never the problem. Your problem is your intolerance and you are homophobic.”
“You don’t belong in a sport that aims to unite and bring people together,” she added. “You would never fit into our pack or what this team stands for.”
Hinkle, a defender for North Carolina Courage in the National Women’s Soccer League, decided against playing in a “pair of international friendlies” with the national team when she learned the players would wear pride-themed jerseys “in honor of Gay Pride Month,” reported The Washington Times.
The Times suggested that Hinkle’s 2017 decision may have played a factor in why she wasn’t chosen to play on the women’s national team that participated in the World Cup this year:
The celebration continued Wednesday for the U.S. women’s soccer team after its historic Women’s World Cup title, even as questions resurfaced about why one of the best players in the nation wasn’t there.
Jaelene Hinkle, a 26-year-old star for the North Carolina Courage professional team, has been called the top left defender in the U.S. game, but she wasn’t selected for the national team—a decision that may have had more to do with politics than prowess.
“I just felt so convicted in my spirit that it wasn’t my job to wear this jersey,” Hinkle told the Christian Broadcasting Network’s “The 700 Club” in a video that aired in May 2018 about her 2017 decision. “And I gave myself three days to just seek and pray and determine what [God] was asking me to do in this situation.”
After the video release, Hinkle received criticism on social media and was booed before the start of an away match in Portland, Oregon, ESPN reported. North Carolina coach Paul Riley and forward Jessica McDonald defended Hinkle after the Courage secured a 4-1 win.
McDonald told ESPN:
She’s high on her faith, and in my opinion, I think that’s absolutely incredible. If she’s for God, that’s fine, that’s great. If that’s what keeps her going in her life and keeps positivity in her life, then let that be. At the end of the day, I’m still going to be friends with her. We have no problems with each other. She’s never said anything bad about me. She never said anything bad about anybody. So, for people to pass on that kind of judgement on another human being, I think it’s sort of uncalled for. She’s got her opinions. That’s fine. Everybody does. It hasn’t affected our team at all.
Her coach even praised her in his interview with ESPN.
“I give her a lot of credit to be perfectly honest with you,” Riley said. “Whatever her beliefs are, whatever she believes in, that’s her. It doesn’t affect the team, it doesn’t seem to affect anybody on the team.”