After teams declined to play against a transgender woman football player whose physical strength on the field “terrified” opponents, the player is thinking about filing a discrimination lawsuit.
Opponent Suffered a Broken Knee After Blocking Shot From Needham
According to reports, the boycott started after a player hurt his knee while ‘stopping a shot’ from 30-year-old transgender athlete Francesca Needham. Two Sheffield and Hallamshire Women’s League games were canceled when news of the event spread, and several players declined to play against Needham for “safety” concerns.
Needham Stepping Down From Football for the Foreseeable Future
Needham has now said that, in the interest of her club, Rossington Main Ladies, which is situated in a former mining community close to Doncaster, South Yorkshire, she will “step down from playing football for the foreseeable future.”
Threatens to Sue
The athlete, however, is threatening legal action, despite having said that she has complied with all Football Association laws regarding transsexual players. She claimed that her squad has “faced challenges from teams unwilling to play against us while I am on the field” in a Facebook comment on the club’s page.
Prompted to Investigate Pursuing a Case of Discrimination
‘This unfortunate circumstance has prompted me to investigate pursuing a case of discrimination, as I believe it represents a breach of a code of conduct regarding diversity and inclusion, as well as safeguarding of adults in football established by both the Football Association and the Sheffield and Hallamshire Women and Girls League.’
Diligently Met Every Single Requirement Set Out by the Football Association
“It’s disheartening to acknowledge that this situation contradicts everything in the diversity and inclusion policies, given that I have diligently met every single requirement set out by the Football Association to play,” she said, explaining that her decision to step down was in the best interests of the club and her teammates.
Needham’s Team Stands United With Her
‘I sincerely hope that this issue of perceived discrimination against me can be resolved peacefully and promptly,’ she continued. With the women’s team secretary tweeting the message, “in unity we defeat discrimination,” Needham had the full support of her club.
Opponent’s Manager Realizes Needham Is Transgender
Only two games this season have the transgender athlete participated, both in October, despite reportedly receiving FA approval. Five minutes into the first game, the opponent’s manager—who has requested to remain anonymous—realized she was transgender.
It Was Obvious
“It was obvious,” the manager remarked. ‘Unfortunately, the FA allowed it to happen but didn’t let anyone know. She’s quite a big strong player. People have refused to play because they are worried about the safety of the players.’
When You Are Playing Against a Biological Man It’s Quite Scary
‘My players were backing out of challenges as psychologically it’s quite a big thing, when you are playing against a biological man it’s quite scary. They were terrified.’ In the two games that she has participated in, Needham has scored twice.
Anonymous Opponent Suffers Knee Injury Due to Needham
However, last month, it was reported that an opponent—who has requested to remain anonymous—had a major knee injury after blocking a Needham shot. There was no foul play or ‘intent to injure,’ remarked the player’s manager.
Unfortunate Grey Area in Women’s Football
She is facing “serious consequences of an unfortunate grey area in women’s football which is going to be extremely detrimental to her work and personal life,” a colleague said, launching a fundraising website to aid her.
Opponents ‘Couldn’t Raise a Team’
Apart from saying their opponents ‘couldn’t raise a team,’ Rossington Main President Gerald Parsons declined to comment on the topic in recent weeks. Needham is not available for comment at this time.
A ‘Welfare’ Issue From the Club’s Perspective
The boycott was stated by the manager of one of the teams who chose not to play. “I have 16 and 17 year old players playing for me and their parents weren’t too keen to put their welfare at risk.” According to him, the club views it as a “welfare” issue rather than a “transgender issue.”
Trans Players Over 16 to Be Approved on a ‘Case by Case Basis’
According to FA regulation, transgender athletes who are beyond 16 will be accepted “case by case.” The “safety of the applicant and fellow players and the need to ensure fair play and fair competition” will be taken into consideration when making a judgment.
Testosterone Levels Must Be Within a Specified Range
It says that if the player meets “hormone-based requirements,” there will be an assumption that they are approved. The range of blood testosterone levels must be met, and the yearly verification of hormone treatment is required. The FA’s Equality Manager will handle each application.
Footballers Are Separated by Sex for Very Good Reasons
According to Fiona McAnena of Fair Play For Women, “Footballers are separated by sex for very good reasons.’ ‘If you put one male on the pitch they are faster, they are stronger. It is patently unfair and in a contact sport like football it’s unsafe.”
It’s Not Because This Player Is Trans, It Is Because They Are Male
“These women didn’t choose mixed football, they chose women’s football. It’s not because this player is trans, it is because they are male.” Sports Council advice stipulates that ‘it’s not feasible to undo the consequences of male puberty,’ so whether the player has fully transitioned or not ‘doesn’t matter,’ she added.
They Need to Do Something About It Urgently
“The law says you can separate on the basis of sex in sports if that is necessary for fairness and safety, and clearly it is,” the speaker said. A new draft policy on transgender players is being worked on by the FA and has not yet been released. Women and girls are suffering injuries from football, Ms. McAnena said, adding that the FA has conferred about upgrading it. “They need to do something about it urgently,” she added.
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