x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Rashid Amir recants over-age claims

After claiming '70 percent' of participants were over-age after losing to Brazil, the UAE Under 17 coach explained on Tuesday, "It was just a moment of anger. I have apologised for it and everything is ok now as far as I am concerned.”

Rashid Amir said on Tuesday that his earlier claims about players being over-age at the Fifa Under 17 World Cup were off-base. Sammy Dallal / The National
Rashid Amir said on Tuesday that his earlier claims about players being over-age at the Fifa Under 17 World Cup were off-base. Sammy Dallal / The National

The UAE Under 17 coach Rashid Amir sought to play down his comments about over-age players at the Fifa Under 17 World Cup, suggesting on Tuesday that they might have been made in the heat of the moment after a heavy loss to Brazil.

On Sunday evening, after losing 6-1 to Brazil, Amir made unusually scathing comments, claiming, “70 per cent of them [participants] are older than the age-group competition we are playing in, and this needs to be thoroughly investigated.”

A couple of days removed from the loss however, and ahead of a must-win game against Slovakia on Wednesday, Amir provided what amounted to a climb-down of his claims, revealing that he had apologised for his remarks.

“Whatever happened that evening, happened, whatever was said, was said,” he said. “It was just a moment of anger. I have apologised for it and everything is ok now as far as I am concerned.”

Amir’s original comments did not gain much official traction. The Brazilian coach Alexandre Gallo rubbished the claims immediately after Amir had made them. On Monday, Fifa reaffirmed their faith in the MRI procedure they use in age-verification, pointing out that four players per team had been randomly tested under the supervision of Fifa’s medical experts.

“[T]he Disciplinary Committee has not received any official complaints in the regard of players exceeding the age limit,” a Fifa spokesperson said. “MRI of the wrist is a simple, reliable, valid and non-invasive method for age determination in 14–19 year old male football players. The method is able to identify over-age players at U-17 competitions at no risk to the individual.”