The North Carolina Courage has issued an apology to fans after announcing the signing of defender Jaelene Daniels, a player with a substantial public history of homophobia.
The Courage revealed the deal on Sunday, reporting that both parties agreed to terms on a one-year deal. Daniels has been a long time starter for the Courage, winning three NWSL championships with the club while being considered one of the league’s most talented defenders before retiring in 2020.
Her talents on the field eventually inspired the USWNT to call up Daniels, an opportunity she declined. At the time, she used “personal reasons” to explain her snub to the national team but later went on to reveal her true motives while appearing on a Christian television show.
Daniels admitted she had withdrawn from the USWNT camp due to her religious aversion to wearing a LGBTQ+ pride jersey.
She took things further, tweeting “this world is falling farther and farther away from God” upon the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States.
The club has since apologized in a formal statement.
”In response to the recent news of re-signing Jaelene Daniels, we as a club acknowledge the impact this announcement has on our community,” the North Carolina Courage said in an unsigned open letter to fans.
“We’ve spent the past few days reading your messages and reflecting on our actions. We are very sorry to all those we have hurt, especially those within the LGBTQIA+ community.
“The decision to re-sign Jaelene was not made lightly and included significant conversations between organization leadership and Jaelene. The priority expressed in those conversations is the safety of our players and maintaining an inclusive, respectful space for the entire team.”
But the apology was not enough as fans have continued to express their disdain.
After a controversial season laced with sexual harrasment and abuse allegations, the NWSL and North Carolina Courage vowed to make the league a safer and more welcoming place for its players, a promise fans feel was broken with the signing.
The NC Courage has not reversed the decision to sign Daniels as she appears on the roster for the 2022 season.