Age cheat­ing makes a mock­ery of FIFA’s youth tour­na­ments

World Soccer - - The World -

In 2003, the Nige­rian sports min­is­ter, Stephen Akiga, told AFP: “We have for a while now been field­ing players far above the ages agreed for some in­ter­na­tional age-group com­pe­ti­tions.”

More re­cently, in Au­gust this year, for­mer Nige­rian FA pres­i­dent An­thony Kojo said: “We use over-age players for ju­nior cham­pi­onships, I know that. Why not say it? It’s the truth. We al­ways cheat. It’s a fact.”

FIFA has long been aware of the prob­lem, par­tic­u­larly in its un­der-17 World Cup. I cov­ered the first 10 of those tour­na­ments, and quickly learned of a wide­spread be­lief among coaches – es­pe­cially the Euro­peans – that the African and Asian teams were us­ing over-age players. FIFA clamped down – not on the sus­pected cheaters, but on the crit­ics, and Por­tu­gal’s coach Car­los Queiroz was told he would be sent home if he made any more com­ments on the mat­ter.

X-ray tests were in­tro­duced but then ridiculed when it be­came clear that they had a mar­gin of er­ror mea­sur­able in years, not months. In 2003, FIFA an­nounced that the x-rays would be re­placed by MRI tests on wrist bones.

At that year’s un­der-17 tour­na­ment in Fin­land, FIFA’s chief med­i­cal of­fi­cer Jiri Dvo­rak

Ahead of the game...Nige­ria’s Kelechi Nwakali with the 2015 Un­der-17 World Cup

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.