Age cheating is hurting African football [Sport]

In the recent months age fraud has manifested itself in CAF’s junior tournaments. In August, three Kenyan players were disqualified from the CECAFA U17 tournament in Tanzania after they failed MRI t

Today’s Sport Segment on The Morning Call is about age cheating in sport, or what is commonly referred to as age fraud. And it is a rampant age-old problem in African football.



In the recent months age fraud has manifested itself in CAF’s junior tournaments. In August, three Kenyan players were disqualified from the CECAFA U17 tournament in Tanzania after they failed MRI tests.



Last week Benin’s U17 team was disqualified from the WAFU-B U17 after half of their players failed the test. Niger, Burkina Faso, Togo, Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire had one player each sent home.



The mandatory use of Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was introduced by FIFA in 2009 for the FIFA Under-17 World Cup to help ascertain whether players are over age or not. MRI is considered to be 99% accurate until the age of 17, after which it becomes harder for medical professionals to calculate a person’s age.



But what prompts age cheating?



In some cases it’s never really the fault of the player. Dr Yacine Zerguini is the vice president of the CAF Medical Committee, and also a member of the FIFA Medical Committee. He says that in the case of Under-17 age cheats:



“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 being the fault of the player or the association.”



But things get different when federations are asked to do independent MRI scans for age tests, before CAF conducts its tests before a tournament and still, overage players get busted.



Several high-placed officials within the various associations and the ministries have acknowledged that they have at times deliberately created ‘football ages’, so that older players are still eligible for the U-20 and U-17 teams.



Football administrators believe age cheating took a leap after the commercialisation of the game in Africa. Clubs and footballers’ agents have been accused of encouraging players alter their age so that it becomes less hard to obtain contracts with European clubs looking out for young talents.



But age cheating is killing African football. Egyptian Football Association media officer Medhat Shalaby likens age fraud to a cancer in African football. He argues that age fraud is a counterproductive practice, to which he is right. Age cheating is destroying football development in Africa. It makes tournaments useless because some players must not be playing because they are too old. What is the point of a 17-year-old competing in a tournament where the opposing team has players way over that age group?



The more this practice continues, the more we gradually lose credence. Our football stars become subject to unfair scrutiny and taunts. This reputation disturbs the success of our players abroad.



It still is fresh to recall the age saga that broiled across Europe concerning African stars like Nwankwo Kanu, Obafemi Martins, Julius Aghahowa and not forgetting the scandal involving Samuel Eto’o and the then coach at Chelsea, Jose Mourinho who claimed that the Cameroonian is older than what he says he is.



Ultimately, Africa needs to start playing clean! Those are sentiments shared by Namibian women football team coach Jacqueline Shipanga. Our national football associations need not support such. Therefore it’s a general call to all the federations around the continent to fix their houses and make things better. Until then, this menace will live on and African teams will remain less productive and too mediocre to challenge other countries in the World Cup.



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Deontay, Fury gear up for rematch Saturday

The two fought to a draw in December 2018.

The much-awaited rematch between two heavyweight champions will come off in Las Vegas, United States this Saturday.

Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder are gearing up for this highly anticipated bout.

“This is the biggest fight in the last 50 years in heavyweight division so both men are putting it on the line and the fans are the only winners here on that Saturday night because we both have a lot to lose. We’re gonna put on an entertaining fight and may the best man win.” Reporter: “Are you still sticking by (your predicion of a) 2nd round knockout?” Fury: “One hundred percent, second round, two rounds”, Fury said.

Wilder’s WBC heavyweight title will be on the line. The champ is assuring fans of an amazing fight.

“This is living witness that things can happen, people can come together and make the best fights happen for the fans to see because that’s the only way we’ll really truly know who is the best in the division and as a heavyweight and it (heavyweight division) was down so many years and now it’s on fire, it’s an amazing feeling just to be a heavyweight right now, but it’s amazing just to put aside all the egos all the politics all the things that’s involved in boxing from not making fight happen, and we can finally come together, and eat at the dinner table together, and give the fans an amazing fight”, Wilder said.

The two fought to a draw in December 2018.

Fury is the lineal heavyweight champ of the world. Wilder is undefeated at 42-0 with one draw. Forty-one of his wins came by knockout.

Fury will step into the ring with a match record of 29-0, also with one draw.

He has recorded knockouts in 20 of his ring wins.

AP

South Africa's rugby team wins World Sports Award

South Africa beat England 32-12 in Yokohama in November to win the World cup. It was their third win led by Siya Kolisi, the first black man to captain the Springboks.

A big win for South Africa’s ruby team as it was named World sports team of the year in Berlin, Monday.

The Laureus Worlds Sports award follows the triumph of the Springboks at the world cup in Japan last year.

“Winning the World Cup obviously, and winning the Laureus Award mean so much and I think the big thing for us is just to continue where we left off and not drop off at all”, said ruby player, Faf De Klerk.

For captain Siya Kolisi “We really enjoyed every single part of it and one thing that I’ll never forget that our coach said: it’s really a privilege to play rugby in South Africa, because you get to impact people’s lives who don’t play rugby and you can bring a country together like we’ve seen in the past couple of weeks.”

South Africa beat England 32-12 in Yokohama in November to win the World cup. It was their third win led by Siya Kolisi, the first black man to captain the Springboks.

Meanwhile, Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton and football superstar Lionel Messi shared the Laureus sportsman of the year award.

The Laureus World Sports award is sport’s equivalent of the Oscars.

AFP

CAF to roll out ambitious reform program [Football Planet]

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) said it was rolling out an ambitious reform program even as it pushed back against accusations of mismanagement

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) said it was rolling out an ambitious reform program even as it pushed back against accusations of mismanagement. An independent audit revealed potential abuse of power and financial impropriety at CAF.

Also on Football Planet, Egyptian giants Zamalek were crowned CAF Super Cup champions after beating Esperance in Doha.

South Africa's cricket captain steps down

On Monday, Plessis was named in South Africa’s squad for the three-match T20 series against Australia, which starts on Friday.

Faf du Plessis on Monday stepped down as South Africa Test and Twenty20 captain.

In a statement, the 35-year-old said he was acting in the ‘best interests’ of the teams, adding that it was ‘‘one of the toughest decision to make’‘.

Plessis was replaced as captain of the one day side by Quinton de Kock in January this year.

Plessis captained his country 112 matches across all formats in a spell stretching back to 2012.

He was rested for both the recent one-day international and T20 series against England, and in January denied reports he would retire after the Test series.

On Monday, Plessis was named in South Africa’s squad for the three-match T20 series against Australia, which starts on Friday.

Mane scores his 100th goal in England as Liverpool beat Norwich

The goal happened to be his 100th in England. He scored 25 goals for Southampton from where he joined Liverpool in 2016.

Senegal international Sadio Mane was on target on Saturday as Liverpool continued their march towards the English Premier League title.

Mane, out for three weeks with a hamstring injury came off the bench to score the only goal of the game at Norwich. The goal happened to be his 100th in England. He scored 25 goals for Southampton from where he joined Liverpool in 2016.

In a post-match interview Mane expressed delight at his feat and at getting back to action: “It wasn’t easy because a as a football player, everyone wants to play all the time but you have to deal with it (injury). I went for some treatment, I worked hard, I came back.”

In 2016, the then 24-year old moved to Jurgen Klopp’s side after two successful seasons at Southampton, netting 25 goals in 75 appearances in all competitions. According to British media reports, Liverpool paid 34 million pounds ($45 million) for his services.

Since the beginning of 2019, Mané has scored 33 times in all competitions for Liverpool, with 17 percent of those strikes being match winners. 16 of those 32 goals being scored with his right foot, seven with his left, and nine with his head.

He has helped Liverpool to the Champions League trophy along with other African counterparts like Egypt’s Mohamed Salah, Naby Keita of Guinea and Cameroon’s Joel Matip.

Salah is the reigning (2019) African footballer of the year; he beat Salah and Man City’s Riyad Mahrez to the award earlier this year. He was instrumental in Senegal’s push for a first African Nations Cup even though they lost the final to Algeria who were led by Mahrez.