A trans-identified male football player is reportedly threatening to sue for discrimination after members of female football clubs in the UK refused to play against him at recent soccer events.
Francesca Needham – a biological male who played for Rossington Main Ladies soccer team – stepped down after female players – who reportedly said they were ‘terrified’ for their safety after Needham allegedly caused a female player to suffer a broken knee – refused to play against him.
After the incident which took place on the 29th of October during a match against Mosborough Ladies’ FC the woman is alleged to have suffered the injury when blocking a shot from Needham.
This led to female players boycotting matches citing safety concerns resulting in the cancellation of two Sheffield and Hallamshire Women’s League games.
Needham (30) said on Facebook that “As some of you may have heard, Rossington Main Ladies FC 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 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.” he said.
The UK Football Association’s rules regarding transgender players say that players can compete with their “affirmed gender” with each application being considered on an individual basis in line with “safety of the applicant and other players” and “fair competition”.
A spokesperson for the FA told BBC Sport that, “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,”
In response to the row Irish women’s rights group The Countess said that, “Despite Sport England guidelines stating that fairness for women and girls AND inclusion of trans-identified males are mutually exclusive, the FA allows males to enter women’s teams.”
The Countess accused Sport England of creating “this mess” in which “a man is threatening to sue for discrimination”.
Despite Sport England guidelines stating that fairness for women and girls AND inclusion of trans-identified males are mutually exclusive, the FA allows males to enter women's teams. They have created this mess and now a man is threatening to sue for discrimination. Let this be a… pic.twitter.com/W6LZREfEoI
— The Countess (@TheCountessIE) November 21, 2023
Speaking to Gript, Sorcha Nic Lochlainn spokeswoman on sport for The Countess, said, “We commend the Clubs and players for refusing to participate in the charade of allowing trans-identified males to enter female sporting categories, but they should not have to risk losing points and being sued in order to protect their female players.”
“Despite Sport England guidelines stating that fairness for women and girls AND inclusion of trans-identified males are mutually exclusive, the FA allows males to enter women’s teams. They have created this mess and now a man is threatening to sue, as clubs refuse to put their female players at risk.”
Nic Lochlainn continued that, “This male player is bigger and stronger than all the other players, and they are rightly concerned about injury – one player has already suffered a season-ending injury.”
”This is unacceptable” she said adding that, “We know from all the science in this area that there is no way of removing the male advantage and that even a man the same height and weight as a woman would have an inherent advantage and pose an increased risk to female players.” she said.
“Sport is divided by sex for good reason, and sex cannot be changed. Women and girls need their own categories and spaces like changing rooms and toilets to be able to fully participate in sport. The erosion of the category of female must be stopped.”
Commenting on the situation in Ireland the Countess spokeswoman said, “The FAI appears to have no policy on transgender inclusion so we are extreme risk that men could demand the same here in Ireland, as has already happened in Ladies Gaelic Football. It’s high time Sport Ireland, the Irish Sport National Governing Bodies, and the Irish Government acted to make clear that no males should be able to enter women’s sport.”
Elsewhere the International Cricket Council (ICC) banned trans-identified males from competing in women’s cricket after a nine month consultation with key stakeholders.
ICC head Jeff Allardice said the “changes to the gender eligibility regulations resulted from an extensive consultation process and is founded in science and aligned with the core principles developed during the review, inclusivity is incredibly important to us as a sport, but our priority was to protect the integrity of the international women’s game, and the safety of players that coming across from the ICC.”