cheats nailed

Mary Papayya

Mary Papayya

The eThekwini municipality has expelled several players from its Under-15 soccer team selected to play in the popular One Nation Cup starting today because some players lied about their ages.

eThekwini sports deputy head Vusi Mazibuko said the players were immediately expelled when investigations with their schools showed they were older and that they had submitted false documentation regarding their ages.

"These players have been summarily expelled from the team and a new team has been selected, with stringent verification processes imposed on all participants," Mazibuko said.

He said the municipality "will not condone or encourage any form of cheating as far as player eligibility is concerned".

He said selections for this team were held in January and participants presented documentation to the selectors verifying their ages and confirming that they were indeed under 15.

But follow-up investigations with the players' schools showed that a number of players in the squad were over the age limit imposed by the competition and had submitted false documentation at selections.

He said the drastic action taken, even at this late stage and so close to the competition indicated the seriousness in which the municipality viewed the matter.

He said the city's partner in this programme, the South African Football Association, eThekwini region and its leadership, will also be initiating enquiries into this matter and disciplinary action will be taken against those guilty individuals within the Safa structure.

"As defending champions, we strongly believe that even though we may be risking our chances in this competition, we must field a team that is both eligible to participate and with players in the correct age group."

The One Nation Cup fosters the idea that football is a chance to promote the "one world" concept, with the game being able to transcend boundaries of language, gender, religion and culture. Most of the teams have Sister City relations with the eThekwini municipality.

Eleven teams are expected to participate in the popular tournament, with the first round expected to kick off today at the George Campbell Technical High School, followed by a series of games until the final, which is due to take place on Friday.