SPRINGFIELD, Nebraska (CBS4) – An eight-year-old girl whose team was disqualified from a soccer tournament last weekend, in part because she looked like a boy, has found support among America’s best female soccer players.
Milagros ‘Mili’ Hernandez’s team won games Friday and Saturday to qualify for a berth in Sunday’s semifinals.
The tournament director, however, was allegedly alerted about questions concerning Hernandez’s gender. It was discovered, too, that Hernandez was listed on the team’s roster as a boy. That is a violation of tournament rules.
The team’s coach claimed the roster contained a typo, and Hernandez’s family provided documentation which they say proves her gender.
“We showed them all different types of IDs,” Alina Hernanderz, Mili’s sister, told KMTV. “The president of the tournament said that they had made their decision and he wouldn’t change it. Even though we had an insurance card and documentation that showed she is a female.”
Hernandez plays for Azzuri Cachorros Chicas and coach Mario Torres, but the team never took the field Sunday.
“We had already paid to play, we had already played three games – why was this not resolved before the semi-finals?” asked Torres. “Even if it was a mistake, they did not need to humiliate her or kick the entire team off the field.”
“They just weren’t listening,” said Mili. “They said I looked like a boy. My brother says it’s only because of my looks. So when they look at me they think I’m a boy but I’m really not.”
“I was mad. There was no point in everybody getting kicked out.”
The Cachorros team filed a complaint with the Nebraska State Soccer Association (NSSA).
Monday, a pair of Team USA gold medalists expressed their support for the young player.
Tuesday, the state soccer association issued an apology.
“While Nebraska State Soccer did not oversee the Springfield Tournament,” the organization stated in a Facebook statement, “we recognize that our core values simply were not present this past weekend at this tournament and we apologize to this young girl, to her family and her soccer club for the unfortunate misunderstanding.”
Later Tuesday, the organization made an announcement after conducting an investigation: It was suspending the tournament.