The Macau Sport Development Board (IDM) has announced that that it has invited “independent people”to probe alleged age cheating by local football officials.
Before departing Macau on Friday to attend last night’s opening ceremony of the 6th East Asian Game in Tianjin, Acting IDM President Jose Fonseca Tavares told reporters that the bureau had questionedseveral coaches about the matter.
“The incident is very serious and the reasons [given by the coaches] do not make sense,” Tavares said when he was asked by reporters about the local football players from the Football Youth Academy whotook part in a football exchange programme among Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau and were disqualified from taking part as they were above the specified age limit.
The bureau said in a statement on Friday that it was sorry about the incident and vowed to look into the case seriously.
According to the statement quoted by The Macau Post Daily, the exchange programme consisted of two age groups – Group A was for players born in 2000 an 2001 while Group B was for players born in2002 an 2003, with each of the three regions sending two teams, one of each age group.
After checking the list of local players’ names who played in Macau on September 28 and 29, it wasfound that the team coaches had picked players that were above the specified ages, according to the statement, pointing out that Macau won Group A and were second in Group B – but because of the over-age players Macau was disqualified and their results voided.
The incident was made public after Hong Kong film director Alfred Cheung Kin-ting wrote an article on his website complaining about the incident. Cheung’s son plays for the Hong Kong team.
Talking to reporters on Friday, Tavares said that the investigation into the matter would start soon and the result released as soon as possible.
“It really makes [local athletes] feel ashamed…it affects footballers in the academy, it is also a setback for the development of the academy,” Tavares said, adding that the bureau would come up with newmeasures to prevent anything similar from happening again.
Founded in November 2003, the Football Youth Academy aims to develop and promote football in Macau, lay a solid foundation for football and nurture teenage footballers with the view to encouraging teenagers to participate in physical education and sport, while improving their fitness levels.
Being interviewed by Apple Daily last week, the academy’s head coach Yau Kin Wai, who used to play for Hong Kong, indicated that “some local officials ordered him” to field over-age players.
However, on being interviewed by government broadcaster TDM last week he said that one of hiscolleagues had made a “mistake”. He did not elaborate.
According to Hong Kong media reports, some of the local players were between 16 and 14 years old but played in the two groups for kids aged between 10 and 13.
The Chinese-language Macao Daily News quoted a local parent of one of the young players as saying that the scandal was “not surprising” because he had seen similar age cheating several times before.(macaunews)