We perfect the art of age cheating
AFORTNIGHT AGO, African football leaders and stakeholders gathered in Moroccan capital Rabat to map out the future of the game on the continent.
There were far-reaching decisions made to improve the game, and even though a few proposals were ridiculous, the majority of the decisions, it is hoped, will advance the progress of the game.
But a critical aspect of the game was neglected – age cheating. Nobody bothered to address this thorny issue which if not stamped out, could be the downfall of the African game.
We are informed that players are subjected to the vaunted MRI scan which uses powerful magnetic and radio waves to create pictures that can detect through the bones if a player is above 17.
I have always wondered why some players from particularly west Africa looked suspiciously older and we were informed that they had passed the MRI scan and by definition, were within the allocated age.
A South African doctor confirmed however, that several of their colleagues admitted during a CAF medical seminar in Cairo last year that the MRI scan was not reliable and results could not be considered conclusive.
He said they were tasked with conducting further tests and research to try to find a foolproof way of determining the ages of players in Africa.
Stories of age manipulation in youth tournaments abound in Africa, and last year Congo were expelled from the U-17 Afcon tournament after they were discovered to have fielded a 22-year old in their elimination of Tanzania.
Last year, Zambia were thrown out of the Cosafa U-17 tournament in Mauritius
French newspapers Le Parisien and Nice Matin were quick to announce that Monaco had denied the report, but in the cloak-and-dagger climate of rumour and innuendo that characterises football’s transfer operations, the latest twist revived speculation surrounding the future of Europe’s most eligible young star.
Only the rumour mill surrounding Neymar and the massive sums involved have come close to eclipsing the buzz generated by Mbappe in recent weeks. after they fielded Nick Mulilo and Benjamin Phiri, who, despite producing MRI results indicating they were within the age category, were in fact over 20.
This week, Zimbabwe coach Moses Chunga questioned the ages of some of their opponents. He claimed the Zambian and Malawian lads couldn’t be 15 or 16 as their physical development defied this.
Controversy continued to swirl around Zambia and a media report said that one Muma Mumba was actually born on June 2, 1997 and actually play for a professional club in Zambia.
Poor Cosafa CEO Sue Destombes tried to investigate the matter but the said player’s birth certificate and MRI results indicated he was eligible.
Neymar, Barcelona’s 25-year-old Brazilian superstar, is at the centre of frenzied speculation linking him to Paris Saint-Germain for a world record €222 million, the price of his buyout clause.
The likelihood of that deal looks to have receded in the past few days as the Mbappe move took centre stage. And if it goes through, Real will have completed a major coup by snatching one of the most coveted young players in football from under the noses of
top European clubs including PSG and Premier League giants including Manchester City.
Real are looking to fill the void left by Alvaro Morata, who joined Chelsea last Friday in a deal reported to be worth up to €80 million.
Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane, asked about Mbappe last week, said Real were short of one attacker after Morata’s departure but chose his words carefully. “I am not saying we are lacking a centre-forward but we are
CHAOS: Injured victims of a stampede at Demba Diop Stadium in Dakar, Senegal, on July 15, which killed eight people when a wall collapsed after fighting started between fans.