A trans-identified male soccer player in the UK is considering taking legal action for discrimination after an opposing female team refused to play against the athlete.
The boycott against Francesca Needham, who played for the Rossington Main Ladies, reportedly came after a female player broke her knee when "blocking a shot" issued by the biological male athlete, according to the Daily Mail.
Some players refused to play against Needham for "safety" reasons, with two matches in the Sheffield and Hallamshire Women’s League subsequently being called off.
Needham has announced that the player is to "step down from playing football for the foreseeable future" for the sake of the team and is threatening to sue, saying that all Football Association policies on transgender players were followed.
In a statement made to Facebook, Needham wrote that the team 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."
"Therefore, in the best interests of my club and my supportive teammates who stand beside me, I have made the decision to step down from playing football for the foreseeable future. This decision is rooted in the desire to safeguard the team and the club’s trajectory," the post, which has since been deleted, stated.
"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."
Needham has only played two matches this season, both of which occurred in October, after receiving clearance from the Football Association.
In the first of the two matches, the opposing team’s manager told the outlet that within five minutes of the game, they realized Needham was transgender.
"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 scored two goals in the two games the transgender athlete played.
In another match, a female player suffered a knee injury after blocking a shot made by Needham.
The player’s manager told the outlet that there was no foul play or "intent to injure."
Football Association’s policy on transgender athletes states that players over the age of 16 are approved on a "case by case basis."
The decision on an athlete will have regard for the "safety of the applicant and fellow players and the need to ensure fair play and fair competition."
A presumption of approval can occur if the player satisfies "hormone based requirements," needing to have blood testosterone levels within a specified range and hormone treatment verified annually.