A girls’ soccer tournament reportedly disqualified a team because an 8-year-old player “looks like a boy.”
Mili Hernandez cuts her hair short because she doesn’t like her hair long. “When my hair starts to grow I put it short because I’ve always had short hair,” she said according to local Nebraskan TV station WOWT 6.
But the organizers of the Springfield Soccer Club girls tournament didn’t accept that explanation — nor the insurance card details that proved her biological sex.
Even though she is only 8 years old, her skills permitted her to join the 11-year-old team, The Omaha Azzuri Cachorros. They made it to the finals on Sunday before the club disqualified them.
“Just because I look like a boy doesn’t mean I am a boy,” she explained. “They don’t have a reason to kick the whole club out.”
Her father Gerardo Hernandez said that “She was crying after they told us. They made her cry.”
Mili’s brother Cruz also spoke out. “They didn’t want to listen,” he said. “They said the president made his decision and there wasn’t changing that.”
Tournament organizers originally refused to answer press questions, but according to WOWT 6, they said the team can submit a challenge to the Nebraska State Soccer Association if they feel the disqualification is in error.
On Tuesday the organizers released a statement to WOWT 6 claiming that a typo on the roster led to the team’s disqualification. "Listing a male player on a girls team roster is a violation of state and tournament rules," they said.
In a separate statement by the Nebraska State Soccer Association — which oversees the soccer league — they claimed the organization was not involved in the tournament organizers’ decision.
“Nebraska State Soccer would never disqualify a player from participating on a girl’s teams based on appearance,” they wrote. “However, it is important to note that the roster submitted to the state by the club identified this player as male, and the competition rules for US Youth Soccer do not allow boys to play on a girls’ team.”
They added: “Nebraska State Soccer promotes the game of soccer to players of all ages, genders, levels, and interest. Furthermore, the NSS Bylaws specifically prohibits conduct that discriminates against any individual on the basis of race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion, age, marital status, sex, and/or sexual orientation. “
Even if the finals are already over, Mili and her family plan to fight the decision.
Watch WOWT 6’s video below.