NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Soccer’s biggest stars are speaking out after an entire girls’ team in Nebraska was benched because someone thought one of the players was a boy.
Confused parents of a Nebraska girls’ youth soccer team gathered for a meeting Monday evening trying to figure out how tournament officials allegedly mistook one of their players for a boy.
“My brother said it’s only because of the looks. So when they look at me they think I’m a boy but I’m really not,” Mili Hernandez said.
Eight-year-old Mili Hernandez and her family say her team was disqualified from a weekend tournament after organizers informed their coach she was listed as a boy on the team’s roster.
“The president of the tournament said that we made our decision and we wouldn’t change it. And we had an insurance card and a paper from when she was five, and it said female on both of them,” Hernandez’s sister, Alina, said.
A report in the Omaha World Herald said someone first alerted officials that they believed Mili was a boy and although organizers didn’t believe she was a boy, listing a male player on a girl’s roster is a violation of tournament rules.
“There’s no way to justify the mistake,” Mili’s coach, Mario Torres, said.
In a statement, the Nebraska State Soccer Association said while they “…did not oversee the tournament, we recognize that our core values were simply not present… and we apologize… this needs to be a learning moment for everyone involved.”
Some of soccer’s biggest female stars showed support for Hernandez, including World Cup winner Mia Hamm and two-time Olympic gold medalist Abby Wambach.
“You can do anything you want to do and be anything you want to be and guess what? You can look like whatever you need to look like to do it,” Wambach said.
Springfield Soccer Club has not responded to a request for comment.
A number of other players on Mili’s team want to cut their hair in support of their teammate but are waiting on permission from their parents.