FIFA to introduce MRI screening at Nigeria 2009 to combat the fielding of over-age players

Today (Monday 31 August 2009), FIFA have announced that in order to ‘protect the integrity' of the FIFA U-17 World Cup Nigeria 2009, Magnetic Resonance Imaging will be used randomly in order to identify players who may be above the age of 17.

The issue of teams fielding over-age players was highlighted recently at the CAF U-17 Championship Algeria 2009, when Niger were disqualified from the competition for fielding an ineligible player.

A statement read: "In order to protect the integrity of the tournament and in the spirit of fair play, FIFA has decided to conduct MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) of the wrist at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Nigeria 2009. Randomly selected players will be tested in Nigeria under the supervision of FIFA's medical experts.

"MRI of the wrist can identify players who are definitely above 17 years. The method has been developed and tested by the FIFA Medical Assessment and Research Centre F-MARC in large scientific studies of different ethnic populations. It is reliable, evidence-based and safe for the player."

Football's world governing body is also encouraging its Member Associations to screen players who may be travelling to Nigeria to ensure that the competition regulations are strictly adhered to.

"FIFA also encourages and supports the participating member associations to conduct such tests in the build-up to the tournament in order to ensure that the players of their team comply with the age limit," continued the statement. "According to the Regulations for the FIFA U-17 World Cup Nigeria 2009 all players must be born on or after 1 January 1992."