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ISL 2018: Banned for age fraud in U-15 tournament, Mukhi returns as 16-year-old after 3 years

The AIFF has stated that they will probe the Jamshedpur FC player’s age discrepancy issue after failing to flag the previous case of age fudging.

cricket Updated: Oct 09, 2018 13:38 IST
Bhargab Sarmah
Bhargab Sarmah
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
isl,isl 2018,gourav mukhi
Gourav Mukhi (center) of Jamshedpur FC in action against Bengaluru FC.(AP)

With thick facial hair and a sturdy physique, Gourav Mukhi barely looks 16. The Jamshedpur FC youngster scored his side’s first goal in a 2-2 draw against Bengaluru FC in their Indian Super League clash on Sunday, becoming the youngest ever scorer in the tournament’s history.

Mukhi was instantly lionised by an excited commentator during the television broadcast and the youngster also received praise from Jamshedpur’s Australian star Tim Cahill following the game.

The highly-rated teenager had first made his mark in a game in 2015 when his prolific goalscoring led Jharkhand to the sub-junior (U-15) national title, beating hosts Goa 8-3 in the final.

Here’s the catch though: that Jharkhand side was later stripped off the title by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) for fielding overage players. Mukhi was one of the five players to be found guilty of age fudging and he was banned for two years by the national governing body.

Mukhi returned to the national football circuit once again in early 2018 when Jamshedpur fielded him in its reserve side that played in the 2nd Division League. He was registered as a 2002-born player. No questions were asked either when Mukhi was registered as a 16-year-old in the current season of the ISL.

The AIFF’s player registration system failed to flag the previous case of age fudging by the same player and Mukhi faced no trouble in registering as the youngest player in ISL.

Kushal Das, general secretary of the AIFF, refused to respond to queries asking how and why a player who was found to be above 15 years in 2015, and subsequently banned, was allowed to return as a 16-year-old in 2018. Jamshedpur FC also didn’t respond to queries on Mukhi.

However on Tuesday, the AIFF stated that they will probe the Jamshedpur FC player’s age discrepancy issue.

“Jamshedpur FC player Gourav Mukhi who had earlier given a declaration that his DOB was 04/05/1999 has now submitted documents to the CRS system referring that his DOB is 04/05/2002,” said an AIFF statement.

“The Centralised Registration System (CRS) which registers in-detailed information of every single player for AIFF was not implemented for the National Championships and the State Associations in 2015, but later. The discrepancy in the DOBs will be referred to the relevant committee for further appropriate action.”

Earlier, Ghulam Rabbani, secretary of the Jharkhand Football Association, had said that he wasn’t aware of Mukhi’s actual age.

“I cannot tell you his exact age now but I remember Gourav Mukhi was unstoppable at the sub-junior nationals in Goa. There was no defence in the country that could stop him,” he said, referring to the tainted tournament in 2015.

“The (age) tests for the tournament had been held in Cuttack when the zonals were going on that year (2015). And then after the team defeated Goa 8-3 (in the final), there were complaints. He was asked to take a re-test and he was banned for two years (after being found guilty),” he added.

First Published: Oct 09, 2018 13:37 IST