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21 Nov, 2023 14:31

Transgender footballer mulls lawsuit – media

Some female players reportedly feared facing her, after one suffered a knee injury on the pitch
Transgender footballer mulls lawsuit – media

A transgender woman in Britain is considering a discrimination lawsuit, after being forced to quit her football club due to a series of refusals by other teams to face her on the field, local media reported on Monday.

Francesca Needham, 30, announced in a statement on Facebook that the decision was “in the best interests of my club and my supportive teammates.” Her statement was shared on the Facebook page of the Sheffield and Hallamshire FC, based near Doncaster, South Yorkshire and quoted by the local press.

Calling the apparent boycott an “unfortunate circumstance,” Needham said she may pursue a discrimination case, “as I believe it represents a breach of the code of conduct regarding diversity and inclusion.”

“I sincerely hope that this issue of perceived discrimination against me can be resolved peacefully and promptly, with the full support of the Football Association,” the message read.

The FA policy on adult transwomen players requires them to maintain a low testosterone level. Admittance is decided on a case-by-case basis, it says.

“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,” the organization told Sky News regarding Needham’s case.

A team manager who discussed the controversy with The Daily Mail on condition of anonymity, said FA allowed Needham to play without telling other teams. She was boycotted because people “are worried about the safety of the players,” the source added, stating that playing “against a biological man [is] quite scary” for them.

The manager of one of the teams that refused to play against Needham told the outlet: “I have 16- and 17-year-old players playing for me and their parents weren’t too keen to put their welfare at risk.”

The club fielded Needham in two games, in which she scored two goals, the report said. In one of the games another player who blocked a shot from her reportedly broke a knee.

There was no suggestion of foul play in the incident. Needham’s former club described it as “an accident due to passion and commitment from a very talented player” and wished the affected team member a swift recovery.