An 8-year-old girl, along with her entire team, was disqualified from a soccer tournament in Nebraska because of her looks.
Mili Hernandez plays soccer for the for Omaha's Azzuri Cachorros girls club team. She was apparently disqualified along with her entire team from the finals because organizers thought she was a boy.
She plays well enough to compete with 11-year-olds and she also helped her team reach the finals of the Springfield Soccer Club girls’ tournament. However, her joy was short-lived as organizers pulled her out of the game because she had short hair.
“Just because I look like a boy doesn't mean I am a boy. But they don't have a reason to kick the whole club out,” said Mili.
Soon after the unfortunate incident took place, Mili’s family showed documents to the organizers proving the girl’s gender. But all efforts were in vain as the organizers didn’t think it was enough and refused to overturn the decision.
“I was mad. I never had that problem before. She's been playing so long in different tournaments. I don't want no problems with nobody, but that wasn't the right way to treat people,” said Gerardo Hernandez, Mili’s father.
“They didn’t want to listen. They said the president made his decision and there wasn’t any changing that,” said her brother, Cruz Hernandez.
She's 8 and plays U11. Only she's got short hair, so Mili Hernandez and her team got DQ'd from tournament. https://t.co/jzgotk5hD3— Frank MacDonald (@frankmSounders) June 5, 2017
The organizers told Hernandez the family could file an appeal with the Nebraska State Soccer Association and challenge the decision.
“It's what she likes. It's what she always wants to do, play soccer,” said Hernandez.
While explaining the incident he said, “She was in shock. She even was crying after they told us...She was crying. They made her cry.”
However, Mili said the incident doesn't dampen her enthusiasm for the game — or her hairstyle.
“When my hair starts to grow, I put it short because I always had short hair. So I didn't like my hair long. Just because I can't play here, there's other tournaments that I can play," she said.
Her coach Mo Farivari said, “She's a great player. She has a big future ahead of her.”
According to the Springfield Soccer Association, Mili’s appearance wasn’t an issue but in the roster, she was listed as a boy and that is what caused confusion. In a statement, the club further added, “Listing a male player on a girls team roster is a violation of state and tournament rules.”
Nebraska State Soccer Association said in a statement, “Nebraska State Soccer does not run the tournament, nor is it involved in any of the decisions the tournament makes with regards to rules, players, or teams. Nebraska State Soccer would never disqualify a player from participating on a girls’ team based on appearance. While we are disappointed that a player was denied the opportunity to play, that decision was made by entities other than the Nebraska State Soccer Association.”
After the news of the girl’s disqualification came out, U.S. soccer players came in support of Mili.
Hey Mili, we would love to host you at one of our camps @TeamFirstSA . Be you!— Mia Hamm (@MiaHamm) June 5, 2017
Mili, don't EVER let anyone tell you that you aren't perfect just as you are.i won championships with short hair https://t.co/WlfL3EIPic— Abby Wambach (@AbbyWambach) June 5, 2017
Not just soccer players, but other Twitter users also showed support for the little girl.
Despite seeing Mili Hernandez's health insurance card that proved her gender, tournament officials disagreed. Good luck with that in court. https://t.co/tErE3sVVWX— Michael McCann (@McCannSportsLaw) June 5, 2017
Mili Hernandez handled herself with dignity I bet this wouldn't have been an issue if she was white girl called Britney #TYTLIVE— Jamaal Hattan (@TrainingMaalie) June 5, 2017
Omaha Nebraska- get a CLUE! Not letting @MiliHernandez 8yrs old NOT play soccer because of short hair!?! Are u kidding me!!! Grow up!— Ann Meyers Drysdale (@AnnMeyers) June 6, 2017
Banner/thumbnail credit: WOWT NBC Omaha/Handout via REUTERS