Age fraud is basically a term that refers to age fabrication; using false documentation regarding the age of players to gain advantage over another team.
Various accusations of age fraud over the year’s have marred Nigeria’s success at international age group competitions. An age test carried out ahead of the African Cup of Nations qualifier has the country, once again, on the wrong side of age fraud.
Twenty-six members of Nigeria’s Under-17 side failed the age test which currently involves Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) screening. MRI screening was introduce by FIFA in 2009 for the FIFA Under-17 World Cup to help ascertain whether players are over age or not. It is considered to be 99% accurate until the age of 17.
The MRI is therefore used to scan the wrist plate of players to accurately check their true age, with only players between grade one and five of the scan eligible to participate. Players with more advanced bone structure are considered to be adults.
Just last year, the Golden Eaglets, as they are known, won the FIFA U17 World Cup in Chile for a record fifth time. This age test has however revealed that half the squad are ineligible to play this year. The players who failed the tests have now left the training camp in Abuja where they had been staying there ahead of tomorrow’s Cup of Nations U17 qualifying match against neighboring Niger, which will still go ahead.
Considering the match is still going ahead, it is a bit of good news that most of the expected starting eleven passed the test. The former Nigerian FA president, Anthony Kojo Williams spoke to the BBC and told them;
“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.
“When you cheat, you deprive the young stars that are supposed to play in these competitions their rights.”
It was these same tests that had left Nigeria without key players for their FIFA Under-17 World Cup in 2013. One of the people who failed this year’s test was Abuchi Obinwa, a USA-based player who possessed all the relevant documentation to prove his age.