SPRINGFIELD, Neb. (WOWT) -- Organizers behind a soccer tournament that disqualified a team are responding to critics that say the decision was made because one of the team's top player 'looked like a boy.' They say a typo in the roster led to the disqualification rather than a player's haircut.
Eight-year-old Mili Hernandez told WOWT 6 News that her soccer team, The Azzuri-Cachorros Chicas, was disqualified because of her short haircut. “They only did it because I look like a boy,” Mili told WOWT 6 News. Organizers say that's not the case.
This weekend, when Mili's team advanced to the final day of the Springfield Girls Soccer Invitational, they were suddenly disqualified.
The Springfield Soccer Association claims Mili's appearance wasn't the issue – a misprint in a team roster caused the confusion. In the roster, Mili is listed as a boy.
In a statement to WOWT 6 News, the soccer club said, "Listing a male player on a girls team roster is a violation of state and tournament rules."
Mili's coach says the mistake was a typo by a registrar. He tried to correct the error at the tournament. Mili's family claims they went so far as to show her insurance card to tournament organizers - proving Mili is indeed a girl.
“We had a doctor's physical form and it gave a description and it said her age and female, so we showed them that but they wouldn't look at it,” said Cruz Hernandez, Mili's brother.
The Nebraska State Soccer Association oversees this soccer league. WOWT 6 News spoke with the executive director Monday, who said that typos do happen on rosters from time to time. He also said they’re working on fixing their software so mistakes like this don’t happen again.
As part of an official statement, officials said, “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.” The full statement can be seen here
Prominent soccer players such as Mia Hamm and Abby Wambach have come to Mili's defense. In an Instagram post, Wambach said, "Dear Mili Hernandez, you are amazing in every way. Thank you for teaching us how to be brave and shining a light on something so hurtful. If you don't know, she is my new hero. Her team was disqualified from a tourney cause they thought she was a boy because of a clerical error that wasn't handled properly. Let's meet soon sister."