Indian football was on Monday rocked by age fraud with players of all three Under-13 North Eastern teams failing the bone age determination test.
The teams include former I-League winners Aizawl FC, Shillong Lajong and Neroca FC.
Also, most of the players from former I-League champions Minerva Punjab FC’s U-13 team also failed the test. All these players have been barred from playing in the sub-junior U-13 Youth League with immediate effect by the All India Football Federation.
“Minerva Punjab aside, most of the players from all the northeast teams failed the TW3 bone age determination test. They have been barred from taking further part in the competition,” an AIFF official told PTI on the condition of anonymity.
“A team can register as many as 35 to 40 players but it needs at least 18 players [who have passed the test] to be able to participate in the tournament,” he added.
Minerva Punjab FC, who have been at loggerheads with the AIFF for some time now, said the federation is being vindictive.
Minerva Punjab owner Ranjit Bajaj said his players have been wrongly stopped from playing and questioned the timing.
“Why are these things happening at the same time. Imposing a huge fine on my team, stopping my players from playing. Of course, they are being vindictive,” Bajaj said.
Bajaj had recently threatened that he would shut down his club, claiming that his team had been denied permission to host its AFC Cup match, scheduled for May 1, in Bhubaneswar.
“This only strengthens my resolve that we can’t continue like this here,” he said.
The club has done exceptionally well in recent times as far as its youth development programmes are concerned, winning the U-13, U-15 and U-18 leagues last season.
Bajaj further said the club had given the correct age certificates and passports of all the players, adding if the federation had to do something it could have six months ago and not now.