The organizers of a Nebraska soccer tournament disqualified an Omaha team this weekend after insisting one of the girls on the squad was actually a boy, her family said.
Mili Hernandez, 8, is talented enough to play for the Azzuri Cachorros’s 11-year-old squad and had helped lead the club to the finals at the Springfield Soccer Club tournament on Sunday. Shortly before kickoff, though, Mili was told that she and her team had been disqualified because she looks like a boy.
“Just because I look like a boy doesn't mean I am a boy,” Mili told local television station WOWT 6. “They don't have a reason to kick the whole club out.”
The shocking decision left Mili in tears, her father, Gerardo, said.
The family pleaded with organizers to reverse their decision, showing them Mili’s health insurance card, which identified her as female. Tournament officials were unconvinced, though.
Organizers later said Mili had erroneously been marked as a boy on the team roster and that her short hair was not not a factor in the decision. The state soccer association issued an apology.
After hearing Mili’s story, American women's soccer greats Mia Hamm, Abby Wambach, Julie Foudy and Megan Rapinoe expressed their support and reached out to meet and help her.
The good news is Mili won’t let the insult keep her from playing the sport she loves, telling WOWT “There’s other tournaments that I can play.”