Girls football league ‘at risk of sanctions’ for refusing to let boy play

A shot of a teenage girl - Girls football league 'at risk of sanctions' for refusing to let boy play
A shot of a teenage girl - Girls football league 'at risk of sanctions' for refusing to let boy play

One of England’s biggest girl’s football leagues believes it is at risk of sanctions for refusing to allow a boy to play in its youth matches.

Yorkshire’s West Riding Girls Football League is said to be at loggerheads with its local Football Association after parents complained their son should be allowed to join.

The FA is understood to have a case-by-case policy for under-16s football, which has usually been put to the test in the past where elite girl players wanted to play alongside boys. “Mixed football is allowed until the U16 age group and under 16’s are entitled to play in boys’ or girls’ teams regardless of their natal sex,” the governing body’s rules state.

However, team managers told organisers of the league responsible for 6,000 under-18 players that the prospect of a boy’s selection in the girls’ competition would “open the floodgates”.

The FA has said it is working with the governing body to find an “appropriate solution” but campaigners and the league are vowing to fight the prospect of allowing the boy to play.

An email from the league’s secretary to its members, leaked to the Mail on Sunday, said: “This is a massive threat to the girls game and we should be mindful that this could be a long struggle should we fight this head on.”

The boy’s parents reportedly asked the West Riding Girls League last October if he could play because of him not wanting to compete with other boys but also because of his ability level.

Former Olympic medallist Sharron Davies condemned the allowance of boys playing among girls teams and claimed it contributes to lower numbers who continue into women’s sport.

“This is ridiculous and dangerous for these girls, potentially career ending – how utterly negligent of the FA,” Davies said. “We know girls and women are leaving sport because of this blatant sex discrimination in sport

Fiona McAnena, at sex-based rights group Sex Matters, told Telegraph Sport: “The FA says it wants more women and girls playing football, but it is putting the demands of one boy ahead of all the girls in this league. Boys have always had places to play football. The one place they don’t belong is the girls’ league.

“These parents have said loud and clear that the girls deserve their own teams. A boy on the pitch changes everything. The law is clear that female-only sport is allowed. It’s sex discrimination for the FA to tell girls they must accept a male player.”

The FA said in a statement that “West Riding FA is working with the relevant league and associated clubs on this matter, and we will continue to support them so that an appropriate solution can be found for all”.

“We want to ensure everybody has the opportunity to play junior football, including within mixed teams if that is the best option,” the national governing body said. “We have rules in place which are designed to create opportunities for boys and girls to play football together, and to ensure no child feels excluded from our game. Our County FAs across the country continue to work with leagues and clubs to ensure the rule which allows mixed football is used responsibly and in a way that benefits everybody playing the game.”