KEIR RADNEDGE in DUBAI: FIFA says no complaint has been received about players breaching the age limit regulations at the U-17 World Cup UAE 2013.

The international federation was responding to allegations by United Arab Emirates’ coach Rached Albedwawi after the hosts’ 6-1 thrashing by Brazil in Abu Dhabi in Group A on Sunday. Earlier UAE had lost 2-1 to Honduras and are virtually eliminated with one game remaining.

However, a FIFA spokeperson said: “Since the final competition of the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013 started, the Disciplinary Committee has not received any official complaints in the regard of players exceeding the age limit.

“In order to protect the integrity of the tournament and in the spirit of fair play, FIFA has conducted MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) of the wrist prior to the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013.

“Four randomly selected players per team have been tested in the UAE under the supervision of FIFA’s medical experts.”

FIFA introduced use wrist scans to determine the age of players at the 2009 Under-17 World Cup in Nigeria after concerns that up to 35pc of players in previous tournaments had infringed the regulations.

A statement on the use of wrist scans said the system had been introduced to meet FIFA’s responsibility “to ensure a level playing field for all players and teams participating in FIFA competitions.”

A statement added: ” Over-age players may have not only an unfair advantage over players of the correct chronological age due to their greater physical maturity, but possibly the difference of age and degree of maturity may result in increased risk of injuries.”

Wrist scans were preferable to X-rays because of concerns about exposing young people to radiation.

It added: “The growth plates of the bones of the human skeleton are open during growth, and close at different times with increasing age and maturity.

“F-MARC [FIFA’s medical advisory department] performed MRI wrist scans of hundreds football players of different ethnical origin aged between 14 and 19 and developed a grading system for the fusion of the growth plate. It was established that in a normal population complete fusion is very unlikely to occur prior to 17 years of age.

“MRI of the wrist is a simple, reliable, valid and non-invasive method for age determination in 14–19 year-old male football players. The method is able to identify over-age players at U-17 competitions at no risk to the individual.”


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