Copa Sao Paulo Finalists Paulista Have Been Disqualified For Age Fraud
Get the best email in soccer.
We’ve shown you some of the best and most amusing moments the Copa Sao Paulo has had to offer over the past few weeks. However, the latest news coming from Brazil’s top youth competition is nothing short of disturbing. Age fraud has been present in soccer ever since the conception of youth competitions. If you are unfamiliar with the term, it usually means that a player forged a document saying he is younger than his actual birth certificate.
This year’s incident was investigated when Batatais accused Paulista’s defender Brendon Matheus Lima dos Santos of age fraud. Paulista had just defeated Batatais and earned a place in the Copa Sao Paulo final to play against Corinthians.
Subsequently, investigations concluded that the Paulista defender was not even Brendon Matheus Lima dos Santos, the name that had been signed up for the competition, it was actually Heltton Matheus Cardoso Rodrigues. Moreover, investigation revealed that Heltton is 22 years old, obviously older than the limits for a U-20 competition.
Sao Paulo’s Sports Court decided to follow the competition rules and disqualified Paulista from the Sao Paulo Cup, leaving Batatais with the task of facing Corinthians in the final.
Also of note is the fact that prior to Paulista’s match against Batatais in the semifinals, Paulista had eliminated the spirited Chapecoense U-20 squad in the quarterfinals, 1-0.
To make matters even worse, the real Brendon Matheus Lima dos Santos is currently in prison, facing drug and robbery charges.
While many may think scams like this would hardly, if ever, work in countries like the USA and many European nations (although you might remember a certain little league pitcher by the name of Danny Almonte), it is a rather regular occurrence in South American and African soccer.
There is no need to look too far from the spotlight to find an example of this problem. Monaco’s Radamel Falcao has been fighting claims that he lied about his age throughout his career.
In this particular case, Falcao had allegedly doctored his documents to say he was two years younger than he actually was in order to play the U-20 World Cup for Colombia in 2005.
Nigeria is particularly notorious in this department. Remember Obafemi Martins, the former Seattle Sounders striker? There have been claims that his documents were allegedly doctored to state he was several years younger than he actually was.
Back in 2009, FIFA decided to actually verify player’s ages coming into the U-17 World Cup. The result? Nigeria had to drop 15 players from its squad.
Brazil had a rather huge problem because of a similar scandal in the late 90s. On that occasion, a player named Sandro Hiroshi was accused of age fraud in a process that involved several clubs and the Brazilian Soccer Federation. The case went outside of the sporting sphere and into conventional judicial proceedings that ultimately resulted in the cancellation of the Brazilian League in the year 2000.
Instead of the league, the clubs organized the Copa Joao Havelange, a competition that included 116 teams and was later recognized by the federation as the 2000 Brazilian League.