US & Canada

US women football stars back disqualified girl

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Media caption'They think I'm a boy but I'm really not'

Two US women football stars have rushed to defend an eight-year-old girl whose team was disqualified after she was accused of looking like a boy.

Short-haired Milagros "Mili" Hernandez has been praised on social media by Olympians Mia Hamm and Abby Wambach.

Mili's club team was booted from Sunday's final tournament in Omaha, Nebraska, even after her father showed identity documents proving her gender.

Tournament officials cite an error on team forms for the disqualification.

Their attention was drawn to the issue because someone on a rival team complained, based on her appearance.

Officials then checked the forms and contacted the Azzurri Soccer club, where Mili plays for the Achurros team, to say she was listed as a boy.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Abby Wambach, who also has short hair, defending 8-year-old Mili

Before her team could take the field, they were summarily disqualified.

Her father, Gerardo Hernandez, had brought her insurance card and other documentation to Sunday's game, but said that tournament officials were not interested in speaking to him.

"They told us the thing was decided," he told the Washington Post, adding that "that wasn't the right way to treat people".

"Just because I look like a boy doesn't mean I am a boy. They don't have a reason to kick the whole club out," Mili told local station WOWT-TV.

Two-time gold medallist and World Cup winner Hamm made an offer to Mili to play at the Team First Soccer Academy camp, which she hosts.

Image copyright Twitter

Wambach published an Instagram video with the message: "Mili, don't EVER let anyone tell you that you aren't perfect just as you are. I won championships with short hair."

On Monday, parents met to discuss the incident, with one angry parent demanding "there needs to be justice".

The Cachorros team have filed a complaint with the Nebraska State Soccer Association alleging both gender and racial discrimination.

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