(William Ezah, GNA Special Correspondent, Banjul, Gambia)
Banjul, Gambia, May 21, GNA - The Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) is considering the use of a special X'ray system to clamp down on the use of over aged players in future juvenile competitions.
The system, which is used to determine the age of players by filming their wrist by indicating the age of the bones which corresponds with the age of the player is likely to be applied in the next Under-17 and 21 championships scheduled for Togo and DR Congo respectively.
This arrangement is however subject to the approval of the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA).
Mr Abdel Moneim Hussein, Acting General Secretary of CAF who disclosed this to the GNA Sports in an interview in Banjul said the system (machine) is currently undergoing series of tests by the medical committee of FIFA and will be made available for use if it is approved.
He said that the introduction of the machine would bring to an end the rampant use of over aged players in juvenile competitions, adding that it has been the bane of African soccer.
According to Mr Hussein, "until such system is Introduced, the hands of CAF are presently tied to the back when it comes to the determination of the right ages of players in age competitions".
"It is a fact that the attitude and conduct of some players clearly shows that they are over aged but there is nothing to prove otherwise".
Mr Hussein added that, "The only way to prove the ages of players is only in their passports which always indicates that the player is 17 or 21 years old and one is therefore compelled to believe it despite the suspicions".
According to Mr Hussein they also have so much trust for the local federations and have no cause to doubt them when participants are presented as Under-17 players.
Mr Hussein said the Confederation would not hesitate to punish any country found to be engaged in the act and cited Tanzania as a typical example. He said Tanzania was suspended from the Sixth Africa Under-17 Championship because there was credible evidence that they had falsified the age of a player during the qualifiers.
The CAF official said the punishment meted out to the Tanzanians should serve as enough warning to other federations that they will not be spared if caught in the same web.
Mr Hussein however called on member countries to desist from the practice in a bid to move the continent's football forward.
The Sixth Africa Under-17 Championship in The Gambia has not been spared of allegations of the use over aged players.
Right from the onset of the championship, countries like Zimbabwe, Cote D'Ivoire and Burkina Faso have not minced words in voicing out their sentiments on the topic.
Most of the officials alleged that there are high number of over aged players participating in the competition but fell short with a single proof. Mr Alex Heredia, the South African goalkeeper's trainer broke the camels back when he made the allegations in front of the Head of State of The Gambia and other CAF officials after his country was defeated by the host nation in the semi final match last Tuesday.
The outbursts of the official led to his suspension from all CAF activities temporary, coupled with another suspension from his mother association, the South Africa Football Association (SAFA).
Mr Heredia has since apologised for the offence but will still have to face the Disciplinary Committee of CAF on May 27.