A dramatic turn of events at the UFOA A U15 tournament (Liberia 2022) with the withdrawal of Mauritania yesterday, Thursday August 18. The Football Federation of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania (Ffrim) would protest against age fraud after the match between its selection and that of Sierra Leone. Taking the pretext of this new scandal, Sud Quotidien publishes an article already published in its columns on May 3, 2021.
“Age fraud is worse than doping,” says Saer Seck. The president of the Diambars Institute, no less president of the Senegalese Professional Football League (LSFP) and 1st vice-president of the Senegalese Football Federation did not know how to say so well, so much cheating on age is on the way to become systemic. The irony is that several professionals and/or managers of clubs or federations seem to be getting along with this situation, which plagues African football and casts shame on the talent of its athletes. Witness the earthquake that the exit of Nguirane Ndaw had caused in the Senegalese and even African football ecosystem. “Like all Senegalese, I cheated on my age to be professional. In Africa, I do not even say in Senegal, the player who does not reduce his age cannot be professional. It is a reality, whether we like it or not. In Senegal, 99% of players have reduced their age”, had swung, straight away, the former international. Such a scourge goes beyond our borders, affecting several African countries south of the Sahara. From Dakar to Mogadishu; from Ndjamena to Gaborone, it seems to spare no country.
THE GUELOR KANGA CASE
The kick-off of the CAN Cameroon 2021 is already launched before the hour by what it is now agreed to call the Guelor Kanga affair where some will be able to accuse the Congolese of “bad losers”. After their crushing defeat (0-3) in front of the band at Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the Leopards of the DR Congo were demoted to 3rd place and eliminated from the Cameroonian CAN. Except that Gabon, which had Guelor Kanga in its ranks, risks losing everything. And for good reason ! The DRC federation has lodged a complaint with CAF concerning the current player of Red Star Belgrade (SuperLiga, Serbia) originally from the DRC and who was allegedly naturalized by Gabon when he was a “teenager”. Except that he would have been born in Kinshasa under the name of Kiaku-Kiaku Kanga. Worse, he would actually be 35 years old, instead of the 30 years declared. Guelor Kanga, the Gabonese or Kiaku-Kiaku Kanga, the Congolese would lie about his age, his name, his place of birth. With the complicity of the Gabonese authorities, he even went so far as to change parents. Damn! Caught in the act, Gabon would simply risk following the CAN on television. Even if the president of the Gabonese Federation Pierre Alain Mounguengui keeps his serenity by indicating on the columns of Gabon Media Time that “Guelor Kanga has never worn the colors of the DRC whatever the category of national teams. Better, the Congo has no element that could harm the nationality of the Gabonese midfielder who has around forty selections with the Panthers of Gabon.
GUINEA AND CAN TANZANIAN U-17
What has just happened in Gabon may be unprecedented. However, this cheating is far from being the prerogative of the Gabonese Football Federation. The memories of the CAN des Cadets in Tanzania are still vivid in our memories. Eliminated on the field following a clean score against Guinea, Senegal will nevertheless be authorized to dance the « Samba » in Brazil instead of Syli, guilty of having cheated on the real age of two of his players: Aboubacar Conté and Ahmed Tidiane Keïta. These two “cadets” of the national Syli had changed their date of birth between the “Dream Club” tournament hosted by Japan in 2017 and the U17 CAN which ended on April 28 of the same year in Dar-Es Salam (Tanzania ). CAF, which has long wavered on the file, will eventually recognize the fraud following the documents provided by the Japanese Federation. Thus, the disciplinary jury of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) will declare Guinea guilty of cheating on the aforementioned players.
SHINE AMONG THE CADETS AND DISAPPEAR
This scourge threatens to kill African football, especially local football. It is not for nothing that most African national teams are populated by Binationals. Especially when national teams are led by foreign technicians who always doubt the age of players born on the continent. The exit of Jose Mourinho, then Chelsea coach on Samuel Eto’o Fils says a lot about the state of mind of our « White Wizards ». Right or wrong ! But facts are stubborn. The continent shines in the small categories. Especially in Cadets and Juniors. The Gambia were crowned African champions in 2005 and 2009. The Baby Scorpions had joined the Blacks Starlets, winners of the CAN in 1995 and 1999 and the Golden Eaglets of Nigeria in 2001 and 2007. Better, Ghana and Nigeria, who dominate African debates among the U-17s, have between them totaled seven world crowns and five vice-champion titles in 18 editions of the Cadet World Cup since the first edition in the People’s Republic of China in 1985, until the last in Brazil in 2019. But become these young people?
The first loss is to be seen in the Juniors. Only Ghana will manage to climb on the top step of the podium in the U-20 category. It was during the 17th edition organized in Egypt with the generation of Andre Ayew, Samuel Eboue Inkoom, Johnathan Mensah, Emmanuel Agyemang Badu that we will all find among the Blacks Stars (senior). Striker Dominic Adiyiah, crowned golden ball and golden shoe of the edition, is currently playing at Arsenal kyiv in the Ukrainian championship, after passing through Serie A, notably at AC Milan and Reggina.
As for Nigeria, we will remember Kelechi Iheanacho, Addidas Golden Ball in 2013 during the U-17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates. However, the list of young Africans who have splashed their talent in CAN U-17s, U-20s and even World Cups in the same categories is far from exhaustive. Paradoxically, they disappear as if by magic into nature, without leaving any trace. Often because of the agents, without scruples. Or simply because they are overtaken by the VAT which reminds them that their real age does not rhyme with the requirements of the high level. They end up in China, Malaysia, Singapore, the Gulf, etc. During this time, their accomplices content themselves with shamefully touching a few subsidies.
EVERYONE IS GUILTY, BUT NO ONE IS RESPONSIBLE
And say that the diagnosis is made. For a very long time. The report reveals that it’s quite a chain. From the undeclared birth to the civil status agent who falsifies the extracts without concealing the mobile hearings which serve as opportunities for “rebirth”. All with the agreement of club presidents, parents and the player himself. The end justifies the means! However, just the impressive size of some Cadets, hair in the armpits, beard and chest should intrigue more than one. “My young people are often opposed to their uncles,” Saer Seck quipped in the same interview he gave to Sud Quotidien. Yet Africa would benefit from stopping the bleeding to put an end to this stigmatization suffered by our players at each international competition. Especially since MRI tests are far from being a panacea. Especially in the juniors! Didn’t Senegal make three changes to their squad that represented them at the U-17 Nations Cup in April 2019?
Indeed, midfielder El Hadji Gueye and forwards Meleye Diagne and Ousmane Diallo – who were part of that squad in Tanzania – were all dismissed by coach Malick Daf. They were replaced by Mamadou Aliou Diallo, Mbaye Ndiaye and Ibrahima Sy. It’s called having a sense of anticipation so as not to be the laughing stock of the world, as was the case with our women’s U-18 basketball team. It’s time we stop playing with the future of our players!