Whatever they call themselves is what we take from them. Footballers enjoy claiming ages that do not actually tally with their chronological ages. They find one or two reasons to necessitate reduction in age, even when it seems almost unnecessary for them to embark on such fashion of dishonesty.
Footballers telling lies about their time spent on earth thus far is a dilemma the football’s governing body has been facing hitherto. It seems to be a never-ending enigma that has generated diverse perspectives from football pundits without a lasting panacea. In fact, erstwhile Nigeria international Jonathan Akpoborie, speaking on effects of football age, asserted thus; “It is a complex problem and without everyone uniting together against it, we won’t be able to get rid of it.”
It is generally believed that African footballers formed the bedrock of lies spurring from age fabrication controversy in football. Even when their appearances say something different, they will still choose to be younger in age. It is not only an act of fraudulent, but it is also a pure lack of honesty to claim what you are not.
Why age fabrication controversy is highly concentrated in the black continent? Well, Cora Burnett, a sport Sociologist in University of Johannesburg had his say on it;”Given the (nature) of poverty in a society where dishonesty often pays-high criminality, dubious ethical standards and contaminated values-and a sport fraternity with pressures to succeed, overage participation needs to be unpacked.” With the insight given by Burnett, it is safe to say the underlining factor why football age is African-oriented is poverty. Everyone wants to make it into limelight as overage “teenagers.”
Little wonder why African teams tend to perform much better at the youth level compared to senior level. For example, African nations have won 7 of the 16 FIFA U17 World Championships (Nigeria 5 and Ghana 2), but no single African team has ever made it as far to the semi-finals in a full World Cup.
In April 2013, nine players were denied of participation in the African U17 Championship in Morocco after Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) wrist scans showed them to be over the age limit. Congo-Brazzaville, Ivory Coast and Nigeria each had three players banned.
Nonetheless, all the bogus sayings about their real chronological ages add little or value to their careers. Shortly after out-muscling their younger counterparts from Europe in youth tournaments, they retire because they cannot run any longer. Yet, they claimed to be 17-year-old few years back. Their honesty compared to nylon cannot withstand the heat of “amala” (yam flour) after all.
Yes, the use of MRI was recorded a success more than an occasion, yet it raises as many questions as it answers. The MRI of players’ wrists to be evaluated by radiologists determines only skeletal age. One negation here is that skeletal age is basically just a measure of biological maturity and people conspicuously mature at varying lengths. It tends to be deceiving many a time. This further shows why certainty cannot be utterly built on technology. It is man’s initiative after all.
The question is, can age fabrication be chalked up for African nations’ innocuous showings at the World’s biggest stage? It is believed this piece has given you much insight to have your say on it. But then, tell Ex-Super Eagles of Nigeria Player, Taye Taiwo never to celebrate 25th birthday anniversary in Europe, whilst his twin sister clocked 33years same day in Nigeria. It is just gross!