India's U-17 World Cup preparations off to a rocky start

The Under-13 tournament organized by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) was in the news again as participating teams fielded over-age players yet again...
It is said that a good start is half the work done. This adage was proved wrong when the Under-13 festival being organized by the AIFF at Kalyani near Kolkata was under the glare of the media when it was found that many of the participating state teams, including Bengal, had fielded over-age players. These teams are now on the danger of facing expulsion from the tournament for the alleged offence.

According to the AIFF, 13 of the 25 participating teams have three or more over-age players in their teams. They were not allowed to field their teams in the first two days. The teams accused of this offence are Bengal, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Orissa, Manipur, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Puducherry. Bengal and five other states have appealed against the decision and have sent their players for MRI tests under AIFF supervision.

AIFF secretary Kushal Das did not hesitate in expressing his disappointment regarding the issue. "This is sickening. Most state associations don't seem to bother. We are seriously considering fines on the errant teams," he said to The Hindustan Times. "The festival was specially organized to select talented boys for our two proposed academies, who could be of use for the 2017 U-17 World Cup," Das added. The AIFF however decided to trial the remaining boys at the FIFA academy at Navi Mumbai.

The tournament required each state association to send an U-12 and U-13 team of 11 players, each of whom would be medically tested and that a team would be disqualified if it had three over-age players. This is not the first time that the U-13 festival has come under scrutiny for the issue of age fudging. A similar event in 2007 at Chennai saw Bengal and 6 other states being barred from the event for fielding over-age players.

Also in a qualifying event for an U-15 tournament, East Bengal, Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan Sporting were disqualified for having over-age players in their ranks.

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