The Telegraph
Tuesday , November 20 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Age row rears its ugly head

New Delhi: The ongoing under-13 festival organised by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) at Kalyani was in jeopardy on Monday when a dozen participating states, including Bengal, faced possible expulsion for fielding players above the stipulated age.

According to AIFF sources, 12 out of the 24 states have three or more over-age players in their teams. They were not allowed to field their teams in the first two days. Bengal and five other states, however, have appealed against the decision their players have been sent for MRI tests.

Expressing his disappointment, AIFF general secretary Kushal Das said: “It is certainly a setback. The festival was specially organised to select talented boys for our two proposed academies, who could be of use for the 2017 under-17 World Cup. Certain state associations have made our task difficult.”

The development has also left the AIFF in a quandary about how to complete the tournament in the absence of so many states and footballers, who, as per the rules, could be scratched off. Sources said efforts are on to allow the teams, whose four or less players were found over-age.

“If a team have four or less number of over-age footballers, then the rest of the 16 players could be allowed to play,” a source said. “However, no allowance would be paid for the over-age players.”

This is not the first time the problem of over age players has hit the under-13 festival. A few years back in Chennai, seven states, including Bengal, were sent home for similar offence.