Ozone FC under the scanner for "Age-Fraud"?

Nike Premier Cup 2017
Ozone FC under the scanner for Age-Fraud allegations

The Nike Premier Cup/AIFF Youth League 2017 is drawing all the eyes more due to the off-field controversies. An official press release from Minerva Punjab FC as well as reports from a reputed National daily - Times of India(TOI) suggests that the All India Football Federation(AIFF) had received documented proofs regarding a possible case of "Age-Fraud" against Ozone FC but were restricted to take any action before the semi-finals due to the stay order given by a Karnataka High Court.

Age-Fraud is not an unfamiliar issue in Indian football with several times the issue has come under the scanner. This includes the AIFF suspending teams from the sub-junior championships.

The press release states,"A source close to the development said that AIFF had enough proof to disqualify Ozone FC before the semi final held today for fielding some players whose true age was around 22 to 23 years, but Ozone FC were able to produce a "Stay" order from the court, instructing AIFF to hold off their decision regarding the case until after the final of the Nike Premier Cup 2017 to be held at cooperage stadium, Mumbai at 7 PM tomorrow."
As per reports from Times of India, the concerned players of Ozone FC had produced birth certificates issued by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) but on further investigation by AIFF committee, BBMP denied issuing the birth certificates.

Ranjit Bajaj, CEO, Minerva Punjab FC was quoted commenting,"With 2017 world cup coming up and the Prime Ministers initiative to develop football, even small clubs like ours are trying hard to avoid overage and ineligible players at every cost and even AIFF is doing their bit by random testing and heavy penalties like ban for 2 years for clubs found to be doing age fraud; so its disheartening to see court orders being used to field questionable players and avoid penalties. The ultimate loser in the scenario is Indian football as we can never progress if our system is rotted by age fraud which is the biggest enemy of Indian football."

Though we have not received any official word from the AIFF regarding the controversy but it will be interesting to see the stance of the Federation if the allegations are proven true especially considering that AIFF has Zero-tolerance for age cheating.

Nevertheless, as it stands Ozone FC and Minerva Punjab FC are all set to battle it out for the Nike Premier Cup/AIFF Youth League 2017 title in the final to be held on Thursday, 9th February 2017.
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About Debraj Banerjee

Hi, I am Debraj Banerjee from Adra, West Bengal. A keen follower of Indian football and always an optimist that the game will get the recognition it truely deserves. What we ask from you is your support and one day the dream might turn true. Fingers crossed for Indian football. Cheers!

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