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US women’s World Cup star lashes out over claims team is ‘not welcoming to Christians’

US Women’s World Cup winner Ashlyn Harris has dismissed claims the team is “not welcoming to Christians” after a row resurfaced involving a former American international who refused to wear a gay pride jersey.

Defender Jaelene Hinkle made headlines last summer when she revealed she had previously refused a call-up to the US women’s national team because she felt her Christian beliefs would not allow her to wear a jersey promoting LGBT pride month.  

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Hinkle, 26, who plays for the North Carolina Courage, last appeared for the national team in 2018, and was not considered for the World Cup in France this summer, where the US team secured their fourth title.

The row over her apparent refusal to play in 2017 due to her religious beliefs has now been dragged into the spotlight after goalkeeper Harris, who was part of the victorious squad in France this summer, lashed out at claims that the team was “not a very welcoming place for Christians.”

Harris was respondng to a tweet from author and broadcaster Obianuju Ekeocha, who shared a clip of a 2018 interview Hinkle did with the Christian Research Network in which she discusses her decision not to take up the call-up one year previously.

“Jaelene Hinkle, is the 26-year-old American footballer who gave up the opportunity to be in the USWNT,” Ekeocha wrote.

“I was very curious to know what happened so I went in search of her interview with CBN.

“Apparently, the US women’s Football team is not a very welcoming place for Christians,” she added.

Those accusations did not sit well with Harris, who lashed out online.

“Hinkle, our team is about inclusion. Your religion was never the problem. The problem is your intolerance and you are homophobic,” she wrote.  


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“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.”

Despite the claim that the team was “not welcoming to Christians” coming from Ekeocha’s tweet, rather than the interview with Hinkle, Orlando Pride ‘keeper Harris nonetheless took direct aim at her fellow footballer in a follow-up message.  

“Don’t you dare say our team is ‘not a welcoming place for Christians’. You weren’t around long enough to know what this team stood for. This is actually an insult to the Christians on our team. Same (sic) on you,” added Harris, who is engaged to fellow US women’s international Ali Krieger.  

A number of members of the US team have been vocal in pursuing their social activism causes, not least Megan Rapinoe, who has been an outspoken critic of US President Donald Trump and a proponent of LGBT rights.

At the World Cup in France, Rapinoe stated that “you can’t win a championship without gays.”

However, Rapinoe has come in for criticism from some quarters for her apparent grandstanding, as well as facing accusations of “arrogance.”

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