news: Teammates rally round transgender woman footballer who quit after rivals refused to compete against her after she left opponents ‘terrified’ and ‘broke player’s knee’ – as she threatens to sue for discrimination
Fans are rallying behind a transgender woman footballer who quit her team after rivals ‘terrified’ by her physical power on the pitch refused to compete against her.
Francesca Needham, 30, withdrew from the South Yorkshire-based Rossington Main Ladies ‘for the foreseeable future’ after opponents refused to play the team last weekend over alleged ‘safety’ concerns.
The boycott is said to have followed a player suffering a broken knee when ‘blocking a shot’ from the trans player. Two matches in the Sheffield and Hallamshire Women’s League were called off as a result of the campaign.
Needham has since announced she is to ‘step down from playing football’ for the sake of her club and is threatening to sue as she said she has abided by all Football Association policies on transgender players.
Supporters have now branded the situation as ‘saddening’ and told Needham that they will ‘stand by you’ as she ‘paves the way forward’ for other trans players.
Fans are rallying behind transgender footballer Francesca Needham, 30, (pictured) after she withdrew from the South Yorkshire-based Rossington Main Ladies ‘for the foreseeable future’. Needham quit the team after rivals refused to play against her. The boycott is said to have followed a player suffering a broken knee when ‘blocking a shot’ from the trans player
Needham (back row, fourth from left) is seen with her teammates at Rossington Main Ladies
A graphic shows Needham in her team colours, alongside scores of her playing attributes
Supporters have now branded the situation as ‘saddening’ and told Needham that they will ‘stand by you’ as she ‘paves the way forward’ for other trans players
Needham, commenting on her club’s Facebook site, revealed that her side has ‘faced challenges from teams unwilling to play against us while I am on the field.’
‘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.’
She said she was standing down in the best interests of club and teammates, stating: ‘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.’
And she added ‘I sincerely hope that this issue of perceived discrimination against me can be resolved peacefully and promptly.’
Needham had received full backing from her club, with the ladies’ team secretary posting the message ‘in unity we defeat discrimination’, as well as its fans.
‘So bloody saddening that it has come to this!’ wrote supporter Sarah Nicholson. ‘Wishing you all the best Fran xx.’
Simon Baker echoed: ‘A big decision Fran, but one I believe your teammates, club officials and every Rossington Main Ladies FC supporters, RMLFC, supporter will stand by you on. All the best going forward.’
‘Hope everything gets sorted soon it’s a very delicate situation but hopefully you will pave the way forward so no one else has to go through what you have xxx,’ added Julie Large.
The trans player has only played two matches this season – both in October – after apparently being given clearance by the FA.
In the first game the opponent’s manager, who has asked not to be named, realised five minutes into the game that she was transgender.
Francesca Needham, whose physical power on the pitch left opponents ‘terrified’, is considering taking legal action for discrimination after opposing teams refused to play against her. Needham is pictured during an apparent football practice
When word spread about the incident, some players refused to play against Needham for ‘safety’ reasons and two matches in the Sheffield and Hallamshire Women’s League were called off
Commenting on her club’s Facebook site, she said her side has ‘faced challenges from teams unwilling to play against us while I am on the field’
Needham (pictured) has announced she is to ‘step down from playing football for the foreseeable future’
Far from backing down, the player is threatening to sue as she said she has abided by all Football Association policies on transgender players. Pictured: Francesca Needham at a party
Needham (pictured) has scored two goals in the two games she has played in. But last month an opponent, who has asked not to be identified, suffered a serious knee injury when she was said to have blocked a shot from the trans player
‘It was obvious,’ the manager said. ‘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.
‘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.’
Needham has scored two goals in the two games she has played in.
But last month an opponent, who has asked not to be identified, suffered a serious knee injury when she was said to have blocked a shot from Needham.
There was no foul play or ‘intent to injure,’ said the player’s manager.
Launching a fundraising site to help her, a teammate commented that 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.’
Rossington Main President Gerald Parsons refused to comment on the controversy apart from stating that their opponents ‘couldn’t raise a team’ in recent weeks.
Needham has been unavailable for comment.
The manager of one of the teams to refuse to play explained the boycott. ‘I have 16 and 17 year old players playing for me and their parents weren’t too keen to put their welfare at risk.’
He said it was a ‘welfare’ issue from the club’s perspective rather than a ‘transgender issue.’
Needham (pictured) had received full backing from her club, with the ladies’ team secretary posting the message ‘in unity we defeat discrimination’
A teammate commented that 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’. Pictured: Francesca Needham in a photo shared online
Needham (pictured) hopes the issue of ‘perceived discrimination’ against her can be resolved ‘peacefully’
FA policy is for transgender players over 16 to be approved on a ‘case by case basis.’
A decision will have regard to the ‘safety of the applicant and fellow players and the need to ensure fair play and fair competition.’
It states there will be a presumption of approval if the player satisfies ‘hormone-based requirements.’
Blood testosterone levels must be within a specified range and hormone treatment verified annually.
All applications will be handled by the FA’s Equality Manager.
Fiona McAnena at Fair Play For Women said: ‘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.
‘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.’
She said it ‘doesn’t matter’ whether the player has fully transitioned or not as Sports Council guidance states ‘it’s not possible to reverse the effects of male puberty.’
She added: ‘The law says you can separate in sport on the basis of sex if that is necessary for fairness and safety and clearly it is.’
The FA has a new draft policy on transgender players that is yet to be published. Ms McAnena said the FA had consulted on updating it and ‘they need to do something about it urgently because women and girls are getting hurt in football.’
Source : https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12771963/supporters-transgender-woman-footballer-threatens-lawsuit-discrimination-opponents-terrified.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ito=1490&ns_campaign=1490&rand=1270