U.S. Soccer to wear, auction off rainbow-themed jerseys for Pride month; Korbin Albert jersey among those to be sold

U.S. Soccer has partnered with LGBTQ+ charity You Can Play Project for the sixth consecutive year to “celebrate and support the LGBTQ+ community during Pride Month in June,” the federation’s release said.

As part of the partnership, the U.S. women’s and men’s teams will wear jerseys with rainbow-themed numbers inspired by Pride during the matches in June. Signed jerseys from each member of the two teams will go up for auction on Friday, May 31 through U.S. Soccer, with all proceeds going to the You Can Play Project, which works to “help promote a safe and inclusive environment for the LGBTQ+ community,” U.S. Soccer said in a press release.

One of the auction pages set up is for USWNT midfielder Korbin Albert, who shared anti-LGBTQ+ content on social media and subsequently apologized earlier this year after pressure from past and present USWNT players, including Megan Rapinoe.

“I want to sincerely apologize for my actions on social media,” she wrote in part on Instagram in March. “Liking and sharing posts that are offensive, insensitive and hurtful was immature and disrespectful which was never my intent.”

Albert, 20, is a midfielder with French Division 1 Féminine club Paris Saint-Germain. She was part of the USWNT’s squad for the CONCACAF W Gold Cup and SheBelieves tournaments and was recently called into camp for new head coach Emma Hayes’ first matches in charge.

The videos that were publicly shared by Albert include a sermon given in a Christian worship space talking about how being gay and “feeling transgender” is wrong. The activity garnered widespread attention from women’s soccer fans, but it was not out of the ordinary on Albert’s profile.

Among the posts that Albert created on her TikTok profile was one from 2023’s Fourth of July weekend, showing her family taking turns stating that their “pronouns are U.S.A.,” with Korbin participating in the video. The post no longer appears on her profile.

“I’m really disappointed in myself and am deeply sorry for the hurt that I have caused to my teammates, other players, fans, friends and anyone who was offended,” she wrote after a Champions League match in March. “I truly believe that everyone should feel safe and respected everywhere and on all playing fields. I know my actions have not lived up to that and for that I sincerely apologize. It’s an honor and a privilege to play this sport on the world stage and I promise to do better.”

Albert is currently on the USWNT roster for the upcoming friendlies against South Korea in Denver and Minnesota.

The USWNT faces South Korea in Denver, Colo. on Saturday, June 1.

Has the USWNT previously addressed LGBTQ+ rights?

In addition to partnering with You Can Play Project for six years, the USWNT has previously supported trans rights, both on an individual basis — especially long-time captain Becky Sauerbrunn — and as a collective. In the final game of the 2022 SheBelieves Cup, held in Texas, players all wore taped wristbands with the words “Protect Trans Kids.” The action came on the same day that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called for state employees to report the parents of trans children to Texas authorities, and referred to “elective procedures for gender transitioning” as “child abuse.”

Sauerbrunn also wrote an opinion piece for a Missouri newspaper in support of allowing trans girls and women to play sports, opposing a proposed “Save Women’s Sports Act.” She is an ambassador for Athlete Ally, a nonprofit LGBTQ+ advocacy group.

Previously Jaelene Daniels (née Hinkle), who largely stopped appearing with the USWNT after expressing anti-LGBTQ+ beliefs, refused to wear the rainbow kits.

Daniels was named to a USWNT roster in 2017, two years after she posted: “This world is falling farther and farther away from God … All that can be done by believers is to continue to pray” moments after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples had the legal right to marry.

Daniels then declined to appear in those matches because they took place during Pride Month, with the team set to wear rainbow numbers for the first time for those games.

Daniels revealed her decision to reject the 2017 USWNT call in an interview with The 700 Club, saying, “I felt so convicted in my spirit that it wasn’t my job to wear this jersey.”

Albert, by contrast, has not declined a call-up to the USWNT and has not publicly expressed any desire to do so. The auction site indicates that she is expected to continue to partake in USWNT camp and wear the rainbow-themed jersey.

Daniels continued to receive call-ups to the senior USWNT after 2017, including to a training camp for the 2018 Tournament of Nations under former head coach Jill Ellis, where she was cut when the tournament roster was named.

Daniels also chose to sit out a Pride Match for the North Carolina Courage, her club team, in 2022 after the Courage chose to re-sign her despite considerable pushback from fans.

(Photo: Brad Smith / ISI Photos / Getty Images)

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