Trans soccer player threatens lawsuit after women refuse to compete against him

A soccer player stands near a ball on a grassy field.
A soccer player stands near a ball on a grassy field. | Unsplash/Emilio Garcia

A British male athlete who identifies as trans quit a women's soccer team and is considering legal action after opponents refused to compete against him following an incident where a female athlete suffered a broken knee while attempting to block his shot. 

Francesca Needham, 30, resigned from the Rossington Main Ladies, a soccer team in South Yorkshire. After the female athlete's knee injury and ongoing refusal from opposing teams to play against Needham, upcoming matches were canceled.

In a statement to The Daily Mail this week, Needham indicated that he is considering pursuing a discrimination case. The trans athlete hopes the situation can be resolved "peacefully and promptly."

"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," he wrote. 

In a Tuesday statement to The Christian Post, a spokesperson for the FA disclosed that it is working with the association in Sheffield and Hallamshire County 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," the spokesperson stated. 

The Telegraph reports that at least four teams in the league are boycotting their matches. 

Needham played two games on the women's team in October after receiving clearance from the Football Association, scoring two goals, according to The Daily Mail.

During the first game that Needham played, an unnamed manager for the opposing team could immediately tell that Needham was a man identifying as a woman. The manager told The Daily Mail that the FA allowed Needham to compete against women, but the association did not let others know that he was a man. 

"People have refused to play because they are worried about the safety of the players," the manager said. "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." 

The manager of one of the teams that refused to compete against Needham said in a statement to the outlet that the parents of the teenage female athletes were not "keen to put their [child's] welfare at risk." He added that the issue is not related to transgenderism, stating that it is a "welfare" issue. 

On Tuesday, the Rossington Main Football Club responded to the situation on Facebook, emphasizing that it has adhered "meticulously" to the FA's Equality and Inclusion guidelines. 

"As a community Grassroots Football Club and a Football Association Accredited Club, it is our duty to foster an inclusive environment for all individuals and abide by the football association's policies and guidelines," the statement read. 

The club indicated in the statement that it would not provide further comment on the situation, saying that it had requested the FA address the matter. 

Needham did not immediately respond to The Christian Post's request for comment. 

The debate about the fairness of allowing men to compete as women is also taking place in the United States, with many expressing concern that men, on average, have a physical advantage over women that gives them a competitive edge. 

These concerns have led to over two dozen states passing policies requiring trans-identifying athletes to compete on sports teams that correspond with their biological sex. 

Earlier this year, British Rowing established a women's category reserved exclusively for females and not men who identify as them. 

According to a study published in 2020 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, male athletes who take hormones maintain a biological advantage over females even after two years of hormone use. 

Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: Follow her on Twitter: @Samantha_Kamman

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