Charlotte Eagles: Proud to Discriminate
With North Carolina at the center of the battle for LGBT rights, Britain’s The Guardian newspaper has profiled PDL’s Charlotte Eagles as an “evangelical soccer team” that doesn’t allow fouling, diving, or gay players.
I’ve been surprised the article hasn’t made a bigger splash in American soccer circles.
The Eagles are a ministry of Missionary Athletes International (MAI), who also run the Southern California Seahorses in the same league, the Charlotte Lady Eagles who played in USL’s now-defunct W-League, and the Chicago Eagles.
The Guardian refers to MAI’s doctrines as the Eagle’s “darker side.” Their website includes the following:
This isn’t about being Christian or not. It’s about only welcoming those who ascribe to a bigoted right-wing version of Christianity. In Charlotte a gay player can get a marriage license from Mecklenberg County, have the minister at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church perform a wedding ceremony, then be denied the right to play with the Eagles.
The MAI clubs aren’t the only soccer teams in USSF’s 4th Division with Christian roots. NPSL’s Buxmont Torch FC, based in Southeast Pennsylvania, is affiliated with a ministry called Crossworld. The difference is that Crossworld doesn’t take a hard line on social issues. Their website proclaims they’re not Biblically superior or the religious elite, and is devoid of hard lines on LGBT issues.
American soccer also has a history of prominent soccer teams whose foundations were based on religion or ethnic groups. Even the 2016 US Open Cup features a team with mostly players of Cypriot decent. Teams like that today are a rarity, though, and teams like that today don’t maintain exclusivity. This includes amateur clubs that are predominantly LGBT. Players are welcome, regardless of sexual orientation.
It’s a simple principle that USL’s Premier Development League and the US Soccer Federation should enforce. America’s soccer pyramid shouldn’t have room for teams who openly flaunt their decision to discriminate.