An 8-year-old Nebraska girl with a short haircut was disqualified from a soccer tournament last weekend because a parent on an opposing team thought she was a boy, The Washington Post reported.
Mili Hernandez prefers her short haircut. “When my hair starts to grow, I put it short because I’ve always had short hair,” she told a local NBC affiliate. “I didn’t like my hair long.”
That simple preference had an outsized cost last weekend. Hernandez’s team, the all-female Azzurri Achurros, won two of three tournament games on Saturday, and were headed to the finals on Sunday when Hernandez was told that the team had been disqualified because the Achurros had a boy on the team—simply because Hernandez has a pixie-length haircut.
Furthermore, a typo on a registration form listed Hernandez as a boy—but another one called her a girl, and Mili’s father, Gerardo Hernandez, brought his daughter’s insurance card to the match to prove that she was, in fact, simply a girl with short hair.
But the officials didn’t even look at Mili’s insurance card, Gerardo said.
“They didn’t even want to take it,” he told the Post. “They told us the thing was decided.”
Her story went viral, and soccer stars like Mia Hamm and Abby Wambach quickly reached out to Mili on social media.
“Dear Mili Hernandez, you are amazing in every way,” said Wambach in a further Instagram post about the incident. “Thank you for teaching us how to be brave and shining a light on something so hurtful.”