SPRINGFIELD, Neb. (WOWT) – The Nebraska State Soccer Association is apologizing to an 8-year-old girl who says her team was disqualified from a youth soccer tournament because she looks like a boy.
It said in a statement Monday that the Springfield soccer club’s decision to disqualify Mili Hernandez’s team does not represent the association’s core values of teamwork and inclusion.
In a statement to our sister-station WOWT the association said that a misprint in the team’s roster identified Mili as a boy.
The state soccer association says it did not oversee the Springfield tournament but will work directly with clubs and tournament officials to ensure nothing like this happens again.
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 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.”
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.”