Grassroots women's football league boycotted after trans non-binary player challenged

A number of amateur teams will boycott a grassroots women’s football league in support of transgender and non-binary players.

Based in East London, the Super 5 League has claimed to welcome “women and non-binary people of all levels” since its inception in 2017.

With 50 teams playing in seven divisions, the five-a-side league has received awards from the FA and is now partnered with Nike Football.

Despite promoting inclusivity, these values have been questioned by Camden Bells FC. The team formed last year and played their very first Super 5 League fixture this weekend.

According to a statement released by Camden Bells, the team were approached after the match by a Super 5 League official, who shared concerns over one of the players. The team member in question was a trans non-binary person.

“He [the official] stated he was worried for future opponent’s welfare, and because of this, our trans non-binary player should not be allowed to play in a ‘women’s league’,” the statement said.

“We were appalled by this conversation as this league claims to be an inclusive space – with ‘LGBTQIA+ & non-binary friendly’ plastered across their marketing materials.

“These inclusive labels attract big sponsors, and we believe it is unacceptable to profit from them if the league is not willing to wholly embrace and promote minority groups.”

As a result of the incident, Camden Bells decided to boycott the Super 5 League with immediate effect and is set to create its own “truly inclusive” space.

The club will now host a meeting this evening with numerous other Super5 teams to discuss the next steps.

Camden Bells’ founder Hannah Thornley told Sky Sports that she had taken the issue to the Amateur FA, but found the conversation to be “unhelpful” and full of “blanket responses”.

“Every point that I made, they came back and said that we were welcome to join a mixed league, or that my player was welcome to leave and join a team and play with men,” she said.

“But I set up this club so that everybody could be included, feel held, seen, loved, and free to play. This is grassroots sport – we should really not have to fight.”

The FA has an existing policy on transgender players which only applies to domestic football and competitions governed by the organisation.

Operating on a case-by-case basis, it requires applicants to meet hormone-based requirements and provide additional evidence of their transition.

The FA’s policy has been described as “really outdated” by Manchester Laces founder Helen Hardy.

Manchester Laces, a club for women and non-binary people, has launched a campaign arguing that amateur transgender players should not have to submit hormone readings in order to play grassroots or amateur football in the UK.

BURTON UPON TRENT, ENGLAND – MARCH 11: Detailed view of a rainbow flag flying during the Barclays FA Women’s Super League match between Birmingham City Women and Everton Women at St George’s Park on March 11, 2021 in Burton upon Trent, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
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