When Mili Hernandez, a budding soccer star in Omaha, plays, she likes to keep her hair short so it doesn’t distract her on the field. But the 8-year-old’s haircut is at the center of a controversy, as her club team, Azzuri Cachorros, was thrown out of tournament by organizers because they believed she was a boy.
The team had advanced through the first two days of the Springfield Soccer Invitational, only to find out the morning of the tournament’s final day that they had been disqualified for letting a boy play on a girls team. The team went to the media, and now the tournament is on the defensive.
The organizers of the tournament are blaming the disqualification—not on Hernandez’s haircut—but on a typo the registrar made. However, even when the team’s coach offered an insurance card that showed she was a girl, the president of the tournament upheld the disqualification and booted the whole team from the tournament.
“There’s no point in all of us getting kicked off, they could have let some us stay and play,” Hernandez said, disappointed her team wasn’t’ allowed to keep competing in the tournament.
In response to the story, some of U.S. soccer’s biggest legends, Mia Hamm and Abby Wambach, have taken to social media to show support for Hernandez and encourage her not to let this incident discourage her.