Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cheats don't prosper

Age-cheating has been taking place for many years in Asian football, especially in age group tournaments. For example random testing at past FIFA U-17 tournaments showed approximately 30% of players were deemed to be overage, so it wasn't purely an Asian problem. However, in Asia, passports are deemed unreliable (birth certificates are often unavailable), so the football authorities have gone more hi-tech and introduced MIR scans to determine age. In 2007 the Asian Football Confederation began MRI scanning after concluding that an MRI scan showing grade 6 (complete fusion of radial bone growth plate), means that the player is deemed to be older than 17 years of age with a certainty of more than 99%. Thus this test was introduced for AFC U-16 tournaments and in the first year, 10 out of 437 MRI scans showed complete fusion of the radial bone, meaning the player was overage. Sanctions were applied. In 2010 not one player was deemed overage. Congratulations to the AFC for their efforts to fight this unfair practice that had plagued Asian football for so long. I must admit to be consistently surprised at the age of some of the Cambodian players playing in the C-League over the past few seasons, but without MRI scans to counteract their age claims, we'll have to accept their ages at face value.

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