By Richard Animam and Kate Obodo
Scandals, scandals and more scandals appear to be the hallmark of the on-going FIFA U-17 World Cup taking place in eight centers in Nigeria.
First, it was the issue of lack of funds, a feat that saw some sub seat chairmen threaten to quit their positions before they were cajoled by the LOC chieftains. The chairmen were not issued with funds to work few days to the commencement of the tournament.
When FIFA officials arrived a week to the kick off of the tournament, there was no vehicle to transport them. Officials of the Lagos State Transport committee were handicapped as there were no vehicles at their disposal to convey anyone.Â Then came the case of accreditation of media men and volunteers. Many media men both local and foreign were denied the opportunity of covering the tournament, as the accreditation committees could not accredit journalists even after registering online.
In Kano, it was reported that a hotel had to throw out members of the State LOC for failure to come up with funds for their accommodation. The release of N3b by the Federal government appeared to have solved the funds riddle, before Columbia coach raised another alarm of over aged players in the tournament.
Coach Ramiro Viafara said the tournament was riddled with many over aged players, which in a way has robbed the tournament of his original intent. Few minutes after his comment, Saturday Sports reached out to renowned lawyer cum businessman Barrister Adokie Amiesimaka.
The Port Harcourt based lawyer and ex-international chorused the view of Viafara and called on the world football governing body FIFA to carry out a random test on the players taking part in the tournament stressing that most of the countries taking part in the competition are cheating by featuring over aged players.
The winger nicknamed â€˜Chief Justiceâ€™ by late ace broadcaster Ernest Okonkwo said; a player like Stanley Okoro can not be said to be U-17. He also revealed that there is another player in the present Golden Eaglets who played in his team who is also above the age bracket.
When FIFA hinted that they would be using the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to detect the true age of players, Nigeria quickly carried out testing of the Golden Eaglets and the result was that over 15 of the players were over aged.
â€œThis competition has shown that we still have problem with over age players. Not all the players are U-17 and we are still getting it wrong. Playing or being patriotic does not mean that we should cheat.
If a competition is carved out for certain age group, players above that age should not be allowed to take part. We need to articulate our youth development programme. Competitions like this should feature secondary school students and not league playersâ€, he said.
It was another scandal in Enugu one of the venues of the tournament, where the artificial turf installed by a company could not withstand the rains. The rains exposed the poor drainage job done underneath the turf, a situation that saw the turf floating when the rains came down, thus forcing matches to be shifted for hours.