Football: AFF over-rules protests by Singapore, Myanmar, says Timor Leste's U-15 captain Freitas is no age cheat

Timor Leste's Paulo Domingos Gali da Costa Freitas was listed as a 22-year-old on the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup website.
Timor Leste's Paulo Domingos Gali da Costa Freitas was listed as a 22-year-old on the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup website.PHOTO: AFF SUZUKI CUP

SINGAPORE - Timor Leste Under-15 captain Paulo Domingos Gali da Costa Freitas, who was accused of being overaged last week at the ongoing Asean Football Federation (AFF) Under-15 Championship, has been deemed eligible to participate in the tournament.

A statement on the AFF website, released on Sunday (Aug 4), read: "The AFF Ad Hoc Disciplinary & Ethics Committee ruled that the protest lodged by Myanmar and Singapore was unfounded and dismissed accordingly.

"The player Paulo D. G. Da C. Freitas (Jsy No. 10) from Timor-Leste is deemed to be eligible to participate in the AFF U15 Championship 2019 in accordance with Article 5.1 of the AFF U15 Championship 2019 Tournament Regulations.

"The ruling comes after a thorough and conclusive investigation by the AFF, based on the evaluation of documents and medical reports."

Freitas had come under scrutiny as it was discovered that he had been listed as being 22 years old on the official 2018 Suzuki Cup website.

While it is understood that the Timor Leste team produced his birth certificate and passport to prove that he was born on Dec 31, 2004, Malaysia coach P. Maniam told Malaysian daily New Straits Times he was told that Freitas has "two identification cards".

However, the AFF sought to put the matter to rest as it arranged for the player to undergo a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan on Sunday in Thailand, where the tournament is held, to gauge if he is eligible.

It is understood that he cleared the test, just like he did for a similar random MRI scan arranged by the Asian Football Confederation in 2017.

Although Frietas is leading the tournament's scoring chart with seven goals, Timor Leste failed to qualify for the semi-finals after losing their final Group A game to Vietnam to finish third out of six teams as Indonesia and Vietnam progressed.

Singapore, who had lost 4-0 to Timor Leste earlier with Frietas netting twice, also missed out on the final four. They ended their campaign with only one win, a 3-2 victory over the Philippines, and finished fourth with four points.