On June 4, an 8-year-old girl by the name of Milagros “Mili” Hernandez and her Azzurri Cachorros Chicas soccer team were suddenly disqualified before taking the field. The organizers believed Mili was a boy based on a typo on the team roster.
The roster did have Mili’s name on it, and she was listed as a boy. Mio Farivari, Mili’s Soccer Club President admits that the typo was an error by their registrar. However, when Mili’s coach tried to correct it at the game, he was not listened to.
Her family insists that Mili was disqualified because of her looks and believed to be a boy. Mili told WOWT 6 News, “They only did it because I look like a boy.”
“They just weren’t listening. They said I looked like a boy. My brother says it’s only because of my looks. So when they look at me they think I’m a boy but I’m really not,” Mili explained.
And Cruz Hernandez, Mili’s brother, told WOWT 6 News, “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.”
“We showed them all different types of IDs. The president of the tournament said that they had made their decision and he wouldn’t change it. Even though we had an insurance card and documentation that showed she is a female,” Mili’s sister, Alina Hernandez, told KMTV.
By June 10, her teammates lined up one-by-one to get their hair cut to show their solidarity with Mili. 10-year old Erika Ortez cut off more than six inches of hair. She told the World-Herald, “Mili is like family to me. She’s part of my team. So I really felt like it was necessary to support her.”
The support hasn’t just come from Mili’s team but from all over the world. In fact, her story has gone viral and has caught the attention of star athletes like Abby Wambach and Anthony DiCicco.
And retired professional soccer player, two-time Olympic gold medalist, and two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup champion, Mia Hamm, has invited Mili and her team to attend one of her soccer camps.
The Nebraska State Soccer Association announced that it is investigating the Ray Heimes Springfield Soccer Invitational and is conducting a detailed review of what happened.
“While Nebraska State Soccer did not oversee the Springfield Tournament, we recognize that our core values were simply not present this past weekend at this tournament and we apologize to this young girl, her family and her soccer club for this unfortunate misunderstanding,” the association said in a lengthy statement on Twitter.
“At no time was a child prohibited from playing because of their looks,” tournament director Lanyard Burgett’s insists.
“No tournament staff ever said a child was not allowed to play because they looked like a boy… The male player on a female roster was discovered in the middle of working through the player swapping issue and has been incorrectly identified as the reason for dismissal.”
The Nebraska State Soccer Association has since apologized to Mili and has threatened to suspend the tournament’s sanctioning unless the incident is investigated.