Overage Player Draws $4,000 Fine for FFC

The Football Federation of Cambodia on Tuesday denied intentionally fielding an overage player during a regional youth championship qualifying match but said it would nevertheless agree to pay a $4,000 fine.

The Asian Football Confed­eration announced in Kuala Lum­pur on Monday that eight countries seeking to qualify for the 2008 Under-16 youth championships had fielded players who were older than 16.

North Korea, Tajikistan and Iraq were disqualified and fined $4,000 while Cambodia, Bhutan, Bang­ladesh, Kyrgyzstan and Macau, countries that had all failed to qualify, were fined.

Tests involving MRI scans were used to determine players’ ages, the AFC said in a statement.

The 16-nation championship is to be hosted by Uzbekistan in October.

FFC Deputy Secretary-General May Tola said Tuesday the AFC had determined that Sok Chan Reaksmey, a forward for the Phnom Penh club Spark FC who made an appearance during an October qualifier in Indonesia, was older than 16 but had not revealed his actual age.

School and family documents, the only means for Cambodian officials to determine players’ ages, all indicated that Sok Chan Reaksmey was 15 at the time of the match, May Tola said.

“We have the documents and it is not the player’s fault,” said May Tola, adding that Cambodian officials do not use MRI equipment to determine players’ ages.

“If we are required to pay, we will pay. It is not serious,” he said, adding that football authorities in Cambodia will be more vigilant in verifying players’ ages in the future.

“This is a lesson for us,” he added.

Cambodian youth team coach Prak Sovannara said Tuesday he was unaware of the fine but insisted that all the youth players were 15 years of age. Sok Chan Reaks­mey’s family book indicated the boy was 15 at the time of the match, he said.

Sok Chan Reaksmey was a valued striker, scoring 13 goals for Spark FC in the ongoing Samdech Hun Sen Cup, he added.

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