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  Sports   Football  05 Oct 2017  Under-17 World Cup: Age cheats under scanner on global stage

Under-17 World Cup: Age cheats under scanner on global stage

AGENCIES
Published : Oct 5, 2017, 5:00 am IST
Updated : Oct 5, 2017, 5:00 am IST

With the absence of Nigeria, and with three-time winners Brazil weakened, the tournament is regarded as open and unpredictable.

England players at a tune-up session in Kolkata on Wednesday. They face Chile on Sunday. (Photo: PTI)
 England players at a tune-up session in Kolkata on Wednesday. They face Chile on Sunday. (Photo: PTI)

New Delhi: The Under-17 World Cup starting in India on Friday should feature only players born this century, but officials are taking no chances after title holders Nigeria were caught in a major age-cheating scandal.

All players at the competition, which has helped launch the careers of Neymar, Ronaldinho, Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez, will have their wrists scanned by MRI to check they weren’t born before January 1, 2000.

The measure was confirmed after Nigeria, who have won the tournament a record five times, bombed out of qualifying after they lost 26 squad members who were found to be over-age ahead of a key clash in August.

Age fraud is also rampant in other countries, according to football officials, prompting Fifa to bring Magnetic Resonance Imaging equipment to the 17th edition of the tournament, which is taking part in six Indian cities.

MRI scans can determine whether a player is below 17 with 99 per cent accuracy, experts say, as they can show whether he or she has stopped growing — which usually happens after 17.

“While it is the responsibility of each member association to ensure that their players meet the age requirements, Fifa has decided to conduct magnetic resonance imaging of the wrist at its U-17 competitions,” said a Fifa spokesperson.

Play gets under way on Friday in New Delhi, where two-time champions Ghana play Colombia at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, while New Zealand clash with Turkey in Mumbai.

With the absence of Nigeria, and with three-time winners Brazil weakened, the tournament is regarded as open and unpredictable.

England prodigy Sancho joins team 
In Kolkata, Borussia Dortmund’s English midfielder Jadon Sancho joined his team mates for the tournament’s group league stage.

Sancho was named player of the tournament at the U-17 Euros earlier this year, where England finished runners-up, losing in the final to Spain on penalties.

Sancho joined the team’s first official practice, four days ahead of their Cup opener against Chile.

Sancho did not travel with the team as he arrived separately after getting a last-minute release from Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund.

The London-born teenager has scored 13 goals in 16 games for England and is expected to be a key player if they are to progress to the last 16 in a “group of death’ featuring twice champions Mexico, Chile and Asian winners Iraq.

Mexico arrive 
Mexico reached Kolkata on Wednesday following a pre-conditioning camp in Spain. The 21-member El Tri were accompanied by a 16-strong staff including chief coach Mario Arteaga.

Mexico, who open their campaign against Asian champions Iraq on March 8, were the last to arrive here from the Group F teams.

Tags: under-17 world cup, xavi hernandez
Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi