The family of an 8-year-old soccer player said her team was disqualified from a tournament in Nebraska because organizers thought she was a boy.
Mili Hernandez, who is one of the best players on the Omaha Azzuri Cachorros' 11-year-old squad, was about to play in the finals of the Springfield Soccer Club tournament on Sunday when she was told that her team had been disqualified because she "looks like a boy."
Hernandez's parents said they showed organizers her insurance card to prove that their daughter, who wears her hair short, is a girl.
"Just because I look like a boy doesn't mean I am a boy," Mili Hernandez told local TV station WOWT 6. "They don't have a reason to kick the whole club out."
Mili's father, Gerardo Hernandez, said his daughter "was in shock. She was crying after they told us ... They made her cry."
After receiving the news about the disqualification four hours before kickoff, Gerardo Hernandez showed tournament officials Mili's health insurance card to prove she's a girl, but "they didn't even want to take it," he said.
"I was mad. I never had that problem before. She's been playing so long in different tournaments," Gerardo Hernandez told The Washington Post. "I don't want no problems with nobody, but that wasn't the right way to treat people."
After hearing Mili's story, U.S. soccer legends Mia Hamm and Abby Wambach showed their support on Twitter. Hamm invited Mili to her soccer academy, and Wambach sent her a message.
Hey Mili, we would love to host you at one of our camps @TeamFirstSA . Be you!— Mia Hamm (@MiaHamm) June 5, 2017
Mili, don't EVER let anyone tell you that you aren't perfect just as you are.i won championships with short hair https://t.co/WlfL3EIPic— Abby Wambach (@AbbyWambach) June 5, 2017
According to WOWT, organizers told the Hernandez family they can file an appeal to the Nebraska State Soccer association to challenge the disqualification.
While the NSS did not comment on any possible appeal, it did condemn the tournament's actions against Mili and her soccer club in a statement released Monday night.
"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 statement read. "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."