• Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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BusinessDay

2023 AFCON: Youngest player Douala faces ban over age fraud allegations

Wilfried Nathan Douala

The Cameroon Football Federation (FECAFOOT) has suspended 62 players, including Wilfried Nathan Douala, who was once hailed as the youngest player at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), for alleged age fraud.

These players, originally slated to participate in the playoffs of Cameroon’s top-flight championship, MTN Elite One, are facing suspension pending the clarification of their identities.

Douala, who claimed to be 17 years old, found himself on the roster for AFCON in Ivory Coast but did not get playing time. Despite being listed as the youngest player in the tournament, he remained on the bench for all matches.

His inclusion in the Cameroonian squad raised questions due to his lack of prior international appearances and his status as a player for Victoria United in Cameroon’s top division.

Douala’s AFCON registration listed his birthdate as May 15, 2006, yet he remained sidelined throughout the tournament.

The issue of age fraud isn’t limited to Douala; 15 clubs in Cameroon have been implicated, with at least one player from each facing suspension.

Cameroon has faced challenges with age fraud, with 21 players from the national squad failing age tests ahead of the Under-17 AFCON in Algeria last year.

Meanwhile, FECAFOOT President Samuel Eto’o mandated age tests for all players to combat the manipulation of civil status records that have marred Cameroon football in the past.

Age tests employ magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the wrist to assess bone fusion, ensuring the accuracy of players’ ages and upholding the integrity of the sport.