Strategic Measures Taken to Combat False Age of Players in Sports


Age fraud is an ongoing problem that plagues many African footballers. Countries like Cameroon and Nigeria have expelled players from their U-17 teams for allegedly being over 18 years old. Even in Europe, doubts persist about the actual age of some African players. To combat this issue, football federations have started relying on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to determine a player’s age by examining the cartilage near the ends of their long bones. However, some medical experts aren’t fully convinced that this method is foolproof.

The allure of fame and wealth in professional football attracts many young players from underprivileged backgrounds who may fall prey to unscrupulous agents and officials. Many agents manipulate players’ ages to give them more opportunities in clubs in Europe, the US, and Asian leagues. To address this problem, some countries like Ghana have started using ID cards connected to government systems to prevent age fraud.

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Ernest Yeboah Acheampong, a researcher at the University of Education in Accra, Ghana, warns against accepting affidavits that support a change of name and age. He says that when such documents are presented, it’s a clear indication that the person is trying to deceive others. The issue of age fraud may explain why the performances of African national teams have not matched those of their youth teams, even though the latter have won several Under-17 World Cups. Until concrete solutions are found, the gap between youth and national team success in Africa may persist.


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