FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017: Indian player reportedly found overage just before tournament's start
What’s the story?
Luis Norton de Matos, the Indian U-17 football team coach, has been forced to make a last-minute change in his final squad of 21 players for the upcoming FIFA U-17 World Cup. According to a report in the Times of India, one of the players, apparently, was found to be overage and had to be replaced at the last moment.
A source was quoted as saying, “When the coach announced the final list of players, there were some murmurs about the talented player being left out. Some suspected that he was being dropped to accommodate another influential player but he was later told about the MRI results.”
Incidentally, though, all players were cleared after the All India Football Federation (AIFF) had conducted similar tests some six months back.
When Sportskeeda contacted the AIFF about the development, no one was available for a comment.
In case you didn’t know…
All the players participating at the upcoming World Cup should be a maximum of 17 years old by the end of this calendar year. This means, only those players born on or after January 1, 2000, are eligible to participate.
The FIFA had asked all the member associations to conduct their own MRI tests in order to ensure that none of the players were overage. According to the rules, once the tournament starts, the governing body for world football will randomly choose four players from each of the participating nations and conduct MRI tests on them under the supervision of their own medical experts.
If a player registers a Grade 6, he will be sent home. Moreover, disciplinary action will also be taken against the erring team.
The heart of the matter
Norton de Matos had named 21 players whom he wanted to be in the squad for the World Cup. However, following the mandatory magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests, he had no option but to drop one of the more promising players.
The AIFF conducted the MRI tests of all the probable for the World Cup just a couple of days before the deadline. However, when the results came in, one of them was found to be over the stipulated age. While the identity of the player is yet to be known, it is believed that he was among the key players for the Indian team.
According to the report, the doctors said that the player had registered Grade 6 as the results showed a complete fusion of his wrist. And in accordance with FIFA rules, a player cannot participate in the U-17 event if he registers a Grade 6.
The World Cup starts off in about two weeks’ time with India beginning their campaign against the United States of America at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi.
While it is a sigh of relief that the AIFF found out about the player before the start of the tournament, one wonders why they had not taken this issue more seriously until the very last moment. If a player is deemed ineligible at the last moment, the coach has to rethink his plans and tactics.
Anyhow, hopefully, none will fail the test when FIFA conducts them during the tournament.