Guinea have been disqualified from participating in the next two editions of the U-17 Africa Cup of Nations and the next FIFA U-17 World Cup after fielding two ineligible players – Aboubacar Conte and Ahmed Tidiane Keita – in an Afcon U-17 game in Tanzania against Senegal in April.
The decision was made earlier this week by the Confederation of African Football’s Disciplinary Council, which met at the governing body’s headquarters in Cairo, Egypt to reach a consensus after a complaint by the Senegalese Football Federation concerning the aforementioned players.
The dates of birth revealed before the game indicated that Conte and Keita were born in 2002, which contradicted the pair’s details as they were submitted for a youth tournament in Japan in 2017, which showed the duo's dates of birth to be in 2001.
Guinea finished as runners-up at the U-17 Nations Cup, defeating Nigeria on penalties in the semi-final, before a shootout defeat at the hands of Cameroon in the final.
Senegal, who originally finished third in Group B, behind Cameroon and Guinea, therefore missing out on U-17 World Cup qualification, will now represent the continent in Brazil.
As reported by Football365, below are the excerpts from the CAF statement:
"The Disciplinary Jury decides unanimously...to impose the following sanctions against the Guinean Football Federation:
1. That the players Aboubacar Conte and Ahmed Tidiane Keita were not eligible to participate with Guinea in the Final Tournament of the U-17 Afcon played in Tanzania. Because of their participation, the team is excluded from the competition and all its results and achievements during the competition must be cancelled;
2. That the Guinean Football Federation, following its disqualification, is prevented from representing CAF at the FIFA U-17 World Cup to be held in 2019;
3. That in accordance with the regulations of the U-17 Afcon, the Guinean Football Federation is banned from the next two (editions of the CAF U-17 Afcon);
4. Those players are Aboubacar Conte and Tidiane Keita are prohibited from exercising any activity related to football for a period of two years;
5. That all medals received as 'finalists' must be returned to CAF within twenty-one (21) days, failing which a financial penalty of $ 20,000 (twenty thousand US dollars) will be imposed;
6. The Organizing Committee will be invited to reinstate Senegal and the Executive Committee to approve the participation of Senegal as CAF's 4th representative at the FIFA U-17 World Cup to be held in 2019;
7. That the person responsible for entering the date of birth of the players concerned in the final tournament of the U17 CAN be sanctioned in accordance with Article 135.2 and be prohibited from exercising all football-related activities for a period of two years.
8. That the Guinean Football Federation be sanctioned with a fine of 100,000 USD (one hundred thousand US dollars) for the falsification of the information communicated concerning the participation of the players in the Afcon U-17 tournament organized in Tanzania. Half of this fine, in particular, $50,000 (fifty thousand US dollars), is suspended for a period of four years provided that the Guinean Federation is not guilty of a similar offence during this period.
Age cheating has been a persistent problem in African football, with FIFA introducing MRI scans to check the ages of players at the 2009 U-17 World Cup, which was held in Nigeria.