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Page last updated at 17:50 GMT, Friday, 23 October 2009 18:50 UK

Fifa to use wrist-scan age tests

Nigeria Under-17s celebrate in 2007
Nigeria are the current Under-17 World Cup holders after their victory in 2007

Fifa are to use wrist scans to determine the age of players at this year's Under-17 World Cup in Nigeria.

Some youth tournaments have attracted controversy in the past because of teams fielding over-age players.

One of the major problems is that birth certificates are often either inaccurate or unavailable.

But organisers will employ magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to scan the left wrist plate of players in order to accurately ascertain their true age.

Professor Jiri Dvorak, head of Fifa's medical assessment and research centre, said: "MRI of the wrist is a simple, reliable, valid and non-invasive method of age determination in young male football players.

"We can identify over-age players at Under-17 competitions at no risk to the individual. This is of considerable help both to member associations and Fifa."

Fifa first began researching the use of MRI technology in 2003 but have only now reached the stage where they are able to judge age with more than 99% certainty.


Results from previous Under-17 World Cups in 2003, 2005 and 2007 revealed that up to 35% of players were over-age.

The Nigeria Football Federation, who are to host the 2009 Under-17 event, initially claimed the tests were not reliable, but having undertaken MRI assessments on their players they have dropped 15 squad members.

In a statement on their official website, Fifa accepts that age verification in some countries is extremely difficult, but that it hopes to use the new technology to eradicate some nations benefiting from the unfair advantage of fielding over-age players.

"In the past, over-age players have been wrongly entered into various youth competitions, often benefiting from an unfair advantage due to their greater physical maturity compared to players of the proper age," read the statement.

"Until now, the main way of checking a player's age was to look at the date of birth stated in his or her passport - but this does not always solve the issue."

The Under-17 World Cup runs from 24 October until 15 November.

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see also
2009 Under-17 World Cup
01 Nov 09 |  African
Nigeria ready for U17 World Cup
23 Oct 09 |  African
UAE slams Nigeria facilities
25 Sep 09 |  African
Nigeria not ready for Cup - Fifa
23 Sep 09 |  African
Nigeria rejects Fifa age scans
16 Sep 09 |  African
Nigeria drops players after scans
26 Aug 09 |  African
Nigeria U-17 given Fifa approval
14 Jun 09 |  African

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