The director of the Springfield Soccer tournament is standing by his decision to disqualify an 8-year-old girl’s soccer team from a tournament over the weekend.
The director, Lanny Burgett said the disqualification was not gender discrimination, but rather the result of a team violation.
“I didn’t disqualify her. Let’s get this straight,” Burgett told 3 News Now. “It wasn’t anything personal about her. It had everything to do with was on the roster.”
The roster for the Azzuri Cachorros Chicas Girls U-11 team listed Milagros Hernandez, No. 6 as a male.
Boys are not allowed to play on a girls’ team per tournament regulations.
Mili’s coach, Mario Fuentes said that was an error with the Azzuri club’s registrar.
Burgett says the soccer’s club roster syncs to the tournament roster. He says they don’t check each individual on the roster for gender because teams should have already been identified by the type of team: girls or boys.
Fuentes said he and parents are still frustrated. He told 3 News Now officials should’ve caught the mistake before the tournament, and not humiliated Mili after the third round of the tournament.
“The young lady is listed here on the roster as a male. I don’t know her. I’ve never seen her. All I know is what I have on paper,” said Burgett.
Burgett added this all started because Fuentes allegedly had violated other regulations during the tournament. He said Fuentes had been moving players from one age group to an older age group to play, a violation that could result in a team forfeiting a game or removal from the tournament.
“That’s what started this whole deal. We went back to check rosters and that’s when we saw she was listed as a boy,” said Burgett.
Fuentes denies the accusations.
Burgett also said parents and other coaches told tournament officials Mili’s team was playing with a boy on the field. He said they confronted Fuentes and asked him if he indeed had a boy on the team. According to Burgett, Fuentes admitted to having a boy on the team.
Fuentes told 3 News Now, that’s also false. Fuentes, who speaks little English, said they left the field on Saturday without any type of confrontation. He said he didn’t know Mili’s gender on the roster was an issue until Sunday morning.
Since Mili’s story went viral, Burgett said he’s been getting threats.
The Nebraska State Soccer Association suspended the Springfield Soccer Tournament until next year while they conduct an investigation.