Sunday, December 4, 2011

Football age cheats

In the English game, either at club or national team level, there is zero possibility of age cheating. All births are centrally registered and players have just one birthdate throughout their playing careers. That's my background. This is not the case in Cambodia, or other Asian countries for that matter, where players have their real age but are often saddled with a separate football age by club or national team coaches. It's such a common occurrence in Cambodia that few see it as a dilemma, and has been sanctioned by coaches over many years. But put simply, it's cheating and is a shameful practice that must be stamped out at all levels, both in international and domestic competitions.
The reason why Cambodian coaches break the rules is to try to gain an advantage in youth competitions, particularly in age-level tournaments, and because they think they can get away with it. Take the Asian Football Confederation's U-14 festival of football championships as an example. A youngster must be 14 or under to play in the competition. It's the coach who decides who he wants to select and if a youngster was overage, at say 15 or 16, the player's birthdate was changed and a passport issued to allow the youngster to travel and compete. The date on his original birth certificate, if he has one, was ignored. That football age will then stay with the player throughout his football career. It will also mean that if the player continues his development and retains his place in the national team squads, it will perpetuate the age cheating all the way through to the SEA Games (at U-23 level). It's clearly wrong and does the game a serious injustice.
The AFC, who initially used X-rays to determine the accurate age of players, and who now use the more reliable MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) tests, have sent a clear message to all Asian countries that age cheating will not be tolerated. They disqualified Korea, Tajikistan and Iraq from the 2008 AFC U-16 championships and then banned eight players during the 2010 event for trying to cheat the system. It looks like the bad old days of age cheating at international competitions has come to an end for the most part, though we still need to ensure a level playing field in domestic age-level competitions being played in Cambodia for this practice to be eradicated forever.


Anonymous said...

Hi Andy,

Birth cheating is happened in all level in Cambodia.

Let me share about my experiences with Cambodia Civil Servant:

In Cambodia civil servant, in order to work longer after he/she knows their upcoming retire age. They paid some bribe to the officer at The council for administrative reform (CAR), At the end the officer at payroll unit at CAR will change their birthrate in the civil servant payroll system.

To do this kind of letter, it has start from he/she's ministry where they work. It is all networking!
Can't do alone to finish this kind of job ^^

Some top officer can pay higher money ^^

From your report about football's birth cheating. It is no surprised for Cambodian people especially Cambodian leader because their head is addicted by this culture ^^


Anonymous said...

Some of the players in Cambodia's U23 team look to be in their late twenties! How old are Sok Rithy, Lay Raksmey and Pheak Rady? - or are we fudging the rules a bit, especially given the recent Mekong Cup was supposed to be an U21 tournament!

Andy Brouwer said...

I think you can say that age-fudging (I like to call it cheating) has been rife in Cambodia and elsewhere in Asia and Africa for many years.