If you have read my blog before, you will know of my disgust at age-cheating in football, particularly in Asia. Make no bones about it (pun intended), it has been rife for many years in Southeast Asian football, both inside and outside of Cambodia. However, the Asian Football Confederation alongwith with FIFA have been instrumental in highlighting the need to ensure overage players are identified wherever possible and the cheating stopped. This is best achieved at the U-16 age-group level. The AFC Medical Committee chairman commented at a recent seminar: “With the introduction of MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) for age determination at AFC U-16 tournaments, the fielding of overage players has virtually come to a halt. This was a chronic problem that went unabated for years marring the image of the sport. A general consensus of introducing 3-D imaging of the growth plate of the radial bone may also take the assessment to the next level, a procedure that never has been done before."
MRI for age determination is specific to U-16 tournaments and the
process cannot be applied to other tournaments or female
players. At the AFC level, MRI scanning is solely to determine
whether the player is either above or below the age of 16 years based on
the fusion of the growth plate of the radial bone of the wrist. Eight players were banned at the 2010 AFC U-16 finals after being exposed by the tests. The desire to stop any unfair advantage due to a greater physical maturity compared to players of the proper age must be adhered to by each country's football association before players are selected for tournaments. This has not been the case in the past. Passports and documentation have been adjusted to allow overage players to compete. This has got to stop and every country association must root out and end this practice.