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Mili Hernandez has short but poignant answers for the myriad questions she’s been receiving this week about her hair.

And why did her teammates line up after a recent practice to get their locks snipped, one-by-one?

“They care.”

The 8-year-old soccer standout’s hair has rocketed her to stardom — and to the center of the debate about gender and sports. Her father and the president of her soccer club said someone accused her team of admitting a boy to an all-girl squad because Mili ‘looks like a boy.’

An 8-year-old girl, Milagros "Mili" Hernandez, and her team are fighting to be reinstated after being disqualified from a soccer tournament by officials who thought Hernandez was a boy. (Reuters)

She’s not — she just keeps her hair cut short — but the complaint cost her team the game. Tournament officials stuck to their decision, even though Mili’s father showed up to the tournament with proof that she is, in fact, a girl.

Her team, the Azurri Achurros, was disqualified from the final game. There would be no trophies that day.

And, with a few snips from a pair of scissors, she received a show of solidarity from her teammates.

“Mili is like family to me. She’s part of my team.” Erika Ortez, a 10-year-old who cut off more than six inches of hair Thursday, told the World-Herald. “So I really felt like it was necessary to support her.”

— Omaha World-Herald (@OWHnews)

Hey Mili! My friends at @PUMA want to send you and your teammates new cleats. Keep doing you! #MiliHernandez #DoYou

— Samantha Mewis (@sammymewy)

“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.


In an email to The Post, tournament director Lanyard Burgett said while there were complaints that a boy was playing on an all-girls team, the three teams that played for the Azzurri soccer clubs were being investigated for swapping players between teams. A separate complaint was made about a boy playing on the girl’s team.

But the reason Mili’s team was disqualified was because of the swapping issue, he said, not Mili’s looks.

“At no time was a child prohibited from playing because of their looks, ” Burgett’s statement said. “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.”

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