FIFA starts MRI scanning wrists to catch over-age cheats

Posted by - October 22, 2009 - International

At last, a way of proving Obafemi Martins is actually 47 years old!

Players representing their country at the forthcoming Under-17 World Cup will have their wrists scanned to make sure they are not too old to compete. FIFA has introduced the MRI scans for the tournament, which begins on Saturday, to end accusations that some countries enter overage players in youth competitions.

The scans will be conducted randomly during the tournament, which (quite aptly, some would argue) is being held in Nigeria.

Dr Yacine Zerguini, member of the FIFA and CAF medical committees, said: “We know that it is not generally bad intention or purpose if players are biologically above 17 years. In some countries, birth certificates are inaccurate or even not available, without that necessarily being the fault of the player or the association.”

The images of the fusion of growth plates in the wrist will be used to judge the age of the player. Apparently, if the bone is entirely fused then it is 99 per cent likely that the player is older than 17.

  • dan

    How many players at the U17 world cup? Seems like 1% error would still turn up at least a handful of “cheaters”.

  • Dokièh

    Good news. Many of them will be caught for sure. Here in Spain we call them “gatos” (people playing in a competition when he shouldn’t due to their age), which means cats in English.

  • James M

    Now that’s the spirit!