A transgender footballer has quit playing after an opponent suffered a knee injury.
Francesca Needham, who played for Rossington Main Ladies, which competes in the seventh level of the women’s football pyramid, in South Yorkshire, has stepped away “for the foreseeable future”, following the incident and claimed that she is discriminated against by other teams who refuse to play against her.
Her decision comes after her team released a statement announcing that a player, named only as Shan, from Mosborough Ladies FC, was injured and taken off pitch.
Comments under the post point to Needham being the player who was involved when a shot of hers was blocked.
In a Facebook comment under the post, which has since been deleted, Needham wrote, according to Sky News, that she had been forced to quit playing due to “perceived discrimination” against her, which she hopes “can be resolved peacefully” with assistance from the Football Association (FA)”.
Needham added: “This unfortunate circumstance has prompted me to investigate pursuing a case of discrimination, as I believe it represents a breach of the 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.”
Her decision is “rooted in the desire to safeguard the team and the club’s trajectory,” she went on to say, but it’s “disheartening [to] acknowledge that this situation contradicts everything in the diversity and inclusion policies, given that I have diligently met every requirement set out by the Football Association to play”.
The FA’s trans policy states that “gender identity should not be a barrier to participation in football”, but its support for transgender inclusion is conditional.
The governing body also demands medical evidence (a struggle for people on waiting lists for gender identity clinics – many which stretch for up to five years), and, in its own words, the policy is subject to being “verified annually”.
The FA told Sky News: “We are working with Sheffield and Hallamshire County FA to find a resolution. This issue is complex and constantly evolving, and like many other national governing bodies in sport, we are currently reviewing our transgender policy for English football to ensure it is inclusive, fair and safe for all.”
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