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Christian soccer player who refused to wear pride jersey not on U.S. World Cup roster

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The USWNT announced their 23-player roster for the 2019 World Cup and Jaelene Hinkle’s name isn’t on it

Soccer: 2016 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying-Puerto Rico at USA
United States defender Jaelene Hinkle (19) in action during the game against Puerto Rico at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, TX on Feb 15, 2016.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Sorry, not sorry, Jaelene Hinkle. When you opted out of wearing rainbow-numbered jerseys that time, the U.S. women’s national team wore it better. And now they’re going to the World Cup, and you’re not.

The USWNT announced its 23-woman roster Thursday and Hinkle, an ardently devout Christian who skipped games in Norway and Sweden in June 2017, was not on it.

When asked why she declined to play in those matches, she would only cite “personal reasons.”

Almost a year later, in May 2018, fans in Portland, Ore. booed Hinkle, some waving signs that cited “personal reasons.” That same month, Hinkle finally revealed what most everyone had presumed: the team’s LGBTQ pride jerseys clashed with what she said are her Christian beliefs.

“I just felt so convicted in my spirit that it wasn’t my job to wear this jersey,” Hinkle said in an interview with the 700 Club.

Although she is considered the best at what she does in the NWSL, Yahoo Sports reported Thursday it was no surprise that the 25-year-old left bank got snubbed. Hinkle hasn’t played for the USWNT in more than three years and wasn’t even considered a roster candidate.

In June 2018, Hinkle was called up for camp before the Tournament of Nations, but out coach Jill Ellis cut her three days in. Outsports writer Katelyn Best outlined the possible reasons: Hinkle had played poorly, the USSF hugely underestimated the backlash from LGBTQ fans and allies, or that that she was only invited to camp to briefly quell speculation she was kept off the team because of her religious objections.

Instead of Hinkle on the roster, Crystal Dunn and Tierna Davidson are candidates to play on the left side of defense for the USWNT.

Ellis told reporters Thursday why neither Hinkle nor any other natural left back got the slot.

“If you look across the back line, all of those players can play at least two positions,” Ellis said. Right back Kelley O’Hara could move to the left side as well, she said.

“One of the things our staff and I do is, we go through worst-case scenarios over and over and over again,” said Ellis. “So, looking at depth and versatility is a big part. And it becomes harder, I think, for a player that plays one position… a player that’s locked to one position — I do think that’s part of the decision-making.”

Hinkle, a defender for the North Carolina Courage, hasn’t tweeted or posted anything on Instagram about the decision. But her Twitter profile does have this quote: “If you live for people’s acceptance, you’ll die from their rejection.”