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FA trying to resolve ‘complex issue’ after rival teams refuse to play against trans player

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The FA says it is reviewing its transgender policy for English football

The Football Association says it is “working to find a resolution” after a transgender player stopped playing football when rival clubs refused to play against her.

Four clubs reportedly withdrew from matches against Rossington Main Ladies after a shot by Francesca Needham injured an opposition player.

Needham said she was considering pursuing “a case of discrimination”.

The FA says it is working with Sheffield & Hallamshire County FA.

Needham’s shot reportedly led to an opposition player suffering a season-ending knee injury.

The FA’s transgender policy states players may apply to play in a league of their “affirmed gender” and each application will be considered on a case-by-case basis, based on the “safety of the applicant and other players” and “fair competition”.

“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,” an FA spokesperson told BBC Sport.

The FA is consulting with world football governing body Fifa and European equivalent Uefa, who are overseeing their own consultation process, as well as other international football and sporting governing bodies, including the other home nations.

Fiona McAnena, the director of sport for campaign group Fair Play for Women, said it had raised the issue with the Equality & Human Rights Commission as a “matter of urgency”.

“They need to point out that female-only sport is lawful,” McAnena wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Writing on Facebook, Needham said: “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.”

Rossington Main play in the first division of the Sheffield and Hallamshire Women and Girls League – the seventh tier of women’s football in England.

Needham said her decision to stop playing football for the “foreseeable future” was “rooted in the desire to safeguard the team and the club’s trajectory”.

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