An 8-year-old Nebraska girl got an apology, and shout-outs from a few soccer superstars, after she was kicked out of a soccer tournament because officials thought she was a boy.
Mili Hernandez is a soccer player for the Azzuri Cachorros girls team in Omaha. The team made it to the finals of a tournament this past weekend in nearby Springfield. Then suddenly Mili, who has a short haircut, and her teammates were disqualified because the tournament officials said that Mili was a boy.
“She was crying after they told us. They made her cry,” Mili’s father, Gerardo Hernandez, told CNN affiliate WOWT. Mili’s family believes she was disqualified because of the way she looks with short hair.
The family said it even presented paperwork to prove she is 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,” Mili’s brother Cruz Hernandez told WOWT.
A typo and an apology
But the tournament’s officials denied that Mili was kicked out because of her short haircut, saying a typo on the roster that listed her as a boy was the reason for the disqualification.
Mili got an apology Tuesday from the Nebraska State Soccer Association, the governing body over the Springfield tournament. The association said its “core values were simply not present” at the tournament.
“We apologize to this young girl, her family and her soccer club for this unfortunate misunderstanding,” the association said in a statement. “We believe that this needs to be a learning moment for everyone involved with soccer in our state and are working directly with our clubs and tournament officials to ensure that this does not happen again.”
But that wasn’t the only response she got. Olympic and World Cup champ Abby Wambach tweeted out her support for Mili, saying that she “won championships with short hair” too.
And retired soccer legend Mia Hamm, who’s also an Olympic and World Cup champion and founder of the Team First Soccer Academy, invited Mili to attend one of her soccer camps.