ACC Sports Medicine Officer Dr. Vece Paes has met with the Honorary Head of the Medical Department of the Asian Football Confederation Dr. Gurcharan Singh in Kuala Lumpur to exchange data and establish the "best-available method" to ascertain players' bone-ages prior to representation and competition.

"It is believed that aberrant age-differentials lead to performance advantages for older players and injury risks for the younger players," says Dr. Paes.

The situation is common across many sports, not least football. The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has been active in establishing its own age-verification protocols for its tournaments and the meeting between Dr. Paes and Dr. Singh was an opportunity to formulate a joint-strategy to benefit the athletes of both bodies’ age-group tournaments.  Dr. Singh is also a member of the FIFA (Federation of International Football Associations) Medical Committee.

Dr. Vece Paes and Dr. Gurcharan Singh in Kuala Lumpur,
June 2008

“It is imperative that we take the lead in establishing protocols which will allow for better and more practical determinants of age than just paper documentation, which, with the best will in the world can be inaccurate,” says Dr. Paes. The desire of both the ACC and AFC is that all their age-group tournaments be events of integrity: ones where the best side wins with no question of them having any unfair advantage.

"The AFC join the ACC in stating that bone-age remains the best available method with which to establish a player’s bona-fides, effectively by assessing the fusion of the radius and ulna bones in the wrist. The ACC uses x-rays and the Tanner-Whitehouse Method, the AFC uses MRI (magnetic-resonance imaging) scans," says Dr. Paes.

The AFC’s youth age-group tournaments are Under-16 and U-19, the ACC’s are Under-15, Under-17, Under-19. Under-19 players are not assessed by bone-age verification protocols. The AFC’s practice is to regard all those with a fused ulna and radius as being over 16, those with unfused as being under 16. The ACC has already established a database for all its players, and once logged and verified it is very easy to assess a player’s age for all tournaments.

Fused Unfused

“New players coming into the U-15 and U-17 categories may fall outside the simple parameters set by the AFC protocols but the ACC has its own panel of consultant radiologists to assess each case to establish as conclusively as possible a player’s eligibility, following which MRI-scans will be done. Further to which, the AFC’s global MRI consultants’ panel will assess the scans,” affirms Dr. Paes.

It was a common problem across Asia. There’s now a mutual solution for Asia.


ACC U-15 Age Verification Results Issued

ACC Determined To Set Level Playing Field

Filed June 6, 2008