Posted On 16 Jul 2019
U.S. women’s national soccer team star Ashlyn Harris accused another player of being “homophobic” for refusing to join the team because of a jersey that celebrated Pride Month.
Harris responded Monday to a year-old clip of Jaelene Hinkle that resurfaced on Twitter in which Hinkle explained that she chose not to join the national team after they asked her to wear a jersey honoring the LGBTQ community for international matches during 2017 Pride Month.
“I just felt so convicted in my spirit that it wasn’t my job to wear this jersey,” Hinkle told The 700 Club in June last year. “I gave myself three days to just seek and pray and determine what he was asking me to do in this situation… I knew in my spirit I was doing the right thing. I knew I was being obedient.”
The clip was posted Sunday by Obianuju Ekeocha, founder of Culture of Life Africa, who said on Twitter that it seemed as if the women’s national team “is not a very welcoming place for Christians.”
Harris, a goalkeeper who’s one of five openly lesbian players on the national team and a two-time Women’s World Cup Champion, responded to the tweet Monday and said that “religion was never the problem.”
“Hinkle, our team is about inclusion,” Harris said. “Your religion was never the problem. The problem is your intolerance and you are homophobic. You don’t belong in a sport that aims to unite and bring people together. You would never fit into our pack or what this team stands for.”
Harris continued in a second tweet and claimed that the accusations were an insult to the Christians on the national team.
“Don’t you dare say our team is ‘not a welcoming place for Christians,'” Harris said. “You weren’t around long enough to know what this team stood for. This is actually an insult to the Christians on our team.”
Kyle Krieger, brother of Harris’ teammate and fiancé Ali Krieger, also responded to the tweet and said he knew the accusation to be false.
“The players have an inclusive Bible study, they pray before and after the WC games, and they are open to whatever faith you follow,” Kyle Krieger said. “Not all Christians are bigots. Hinkle, on the other hand, hides her bigotry behind her faith.”
Hinkle, who is currently a defender for the North Carolina Courage in the National Women’s Soccer League, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News.
Approximately 40 lesbian and bisexual players participated in the Women’s World Cup this year, compared to less than 20 in 2015, according to LGBTQ sports site Outsports. The U.S. women’s national soccer team had at least five openly LGBTQ players on the team this year, including co-captain Megan Rapinoe.