A court in Benin Republic capital Cotonou has sentenced ten footballers and an official to prison for age cheating and fraud charges.
Half of the country’s Under-17 national male team failed the mandatory MRI [Magnetic Resonance Imaging] test last month ahead of the 2019 Under-17 African Cup of Nations qualifiers in Niger.
The players were expelled from the tournament by CAF and arrested by local police upon their return to Cotonou where they were arraigned and sentenced each to one month in prison on Wednesday.
Benin Football Federation (FBF) newly elected president Mathurin de Chacus has promised to eradicate ‘corruption, improvisation and amateurism’ from the country’s football.
His predecessor Anjorin Moucharafou, who was briefly detained in 2011 following corruption scandals at the FBF, was sentenced to 12 months in jail and fined $400 at the same hearing with the ten players.
The current FBF secretary Zéphirin Déguénon, the U17 coach Lafiou Yessoufou and team doctor Parfait Aivodji were also fined $400 each.
This is not the first time ‘age cheating scandal’ is making its way to the front page in the West African nation.
Benin were suspended in 2004 by FIFA for the same practice and was disqualified from the U17 Afcon in 2016 after some players failed the MRI test.