Skip to content

Samuel Eto’o calls José Mourinho a ‘fool’, but soccer’s age fraud problem still a concern

May 15, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT

Eto'o is at the center of a huge controversy as Mourinho was recorded without his knowledge. AP

While fighting for time in Chelsea’s squad, Samuel Eto’o had reason to keep his mouth shut. Now that he’s away from the Blues and preparing for the World Cup, the Cameroonian international can finally hit back at José Mourinho, who earlier this year implied the man he’s coach with Chelsea and Inter Milan was older than he’s listed.

“Today, I am 33 years old,” Eto’o told AfricanFootball.com. “And it is not because a fool called me an old man that you must believe it.”

Mourinho’s comment came in an off-the-record conversation that was eventually distributed by French broadcaster Canal+. Explaining why he felt his club wouldn’t win the Premier League, the Blues’ boss pointed to the lack of talent at striker, casting doubt on Eto’o’s claimed age.

“Will we win the title?” Mourinho queried in a conversation broadcast on Canal +. “No, we don’t have any scorer. Samuel Eto’o? He is 32-years-old, maybe 35, I don’t know.”

Eto’o would go on to finish the 2013-14 season with 12 goals in 32 all-competition appearances. Fernando Torres added 11, while Demba Ba finished with eight.

Age cheating isn’t something to be taken lightly, but neither are Mourinho’s words. Whereas the outspoken boss is known for using his time in front of the microphones to serve his whims, the quotes Canal+ released were off-the-record. Perhaps he was making a joke, maybe exaggerating his woe, but this wasn’t just Mourinho being tossing out a good quote. This wasn’t supposed to be a quote at all.

Eto’o responded as you’d expect, with an annoyed dismissal, but these are the kind of doubts that hover over African players. It’s unfair, it’s lazy, but unfortunately, it’s also not an entirely baseless concern. Just as Major League Baseball began taking new steps after a series of prominent age-fraud incidents, soccer needs to adopt measures to combat this type of cheating.

FIFA has started making progress my using MRI scans of players’ wrists to discern if a player might be too old for age-restricted tournaments. On the club-level, though, it’s unclear where the incentives lie. A player can make more if he’s understood to be younger. Agents have a greater chance to place the player. Competition between teams is such that being willing to take a chance on a player that might be older could land you a talent while another club wavers.

As the rumors around Radamel Falcao attest, this isn’t purely an African concern. The issue is less about geography than urgency. FIFA is taking steps, but in the club world, there’s no huge push to implement similar measures. At the levels of Falcao and other players who command eight-digit transfer fees, teams will usually take every step possible. Lower down the totem pole, players are more likely to land a deal without the same precautions.

Latest Posts
  1. CONCACAF Champions League Roundup: Champions fall in Panama; Sporting slips at Estelí

    Aug 20, 2014, 1:47 AM EDT

    concacaf champions league logo

    Portland victorious in CCL debut,while Club América affirmed their place as one of the competition’s favorites.

  2. Where in the world is Juan Agudelo? “Munich” may soon be the answer

    Aug 19, 2014, 9:53 PM EDT

    Agudelo Getty Images

    21-year-old striker may turn to the 2.Bundesliga to get his young career back on track.

  3. Moor’s season-ending injury sends Rapids’ defense into upheaval

    Aug 19, 2014, 8:33 PM EDT

    Colorado Rapids v Philadelphia Union Getty Images

    Injury couldn’t have come at a worse time for slumping Colorado.

  4. Spanish Super Cup: Late goal allows Atlético to claim first leg draw at Real Madrid

    Aug 19, 2014, 7:22 PM EDT

    gareth_bale AP

    James Rodríguez’s opener is pulled back in the 81st minute, sending the rivals to the Calderón even.

  5. UEFA Champions League Roundup: Arsenal held; Athletic takes 1-1 draw out of Naples

    Aug 19, 2014, 5:40 PM EDT

    arsenal_besiktas AP

    Steaua Bucharest, Bayer Leverkusen, and Red Bull Salzburg earned first leg wins.

  6. PST Major League Soccer Player of the Week: Fabián Castillo

    Aug 19, 2014, 4:40 PM EDT

    Colorado Rapids v FC Dallas Getty Images

    Tesho Akindele won the league’s honor, leaving is with one question: How? Teammate Fabián Castillo was clearly FC Dallas’s (and the league’s) best player.

  7. Fantasyland: Week One heroes, leaders, busts, three names to monitor

    Aug 19, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT

    Sunderland v Udinese - Pre Season Friendly Getty Images

    A pair of Liverpool midfielders let down their owners, while Hull was the key to big, big scores.

  8. VIDEO: Ba hits the bar from midfield off opening kickoff vs Arsenal

    Aug 19, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

    Ba 1

    Demba Ba had the gumption to try and score one of the earliest goals of all-time in Besiktas’ UCL match against Arsenal on Tuesday

  9. Man says Liverpool tattoo helped him through 19 hours vs sea, sharks

    Aug 19, 2014, 2:45 PM EDT

    Channel 7 via The Mirror Channel 7 via The Mirror

    Swimming with sharks, and knowing his fishing companions faced death, Kim Thomsen leaned on the fact that he wasn’t swimming alone.

  10. Tuesday transfer rumor roundup: Falcao to Liverpool, Welbeck to Hull?

    Aug 19, 2014, 2:25 PM EDT

    Vincent-Aboubakar Getty Images

    Bayern president Franz Beckenbauer claims Marco Reus is headed to Manchester United… next summer.

  11. Sporting CP confirms swap of Rojo to Manchester United for Nani, money

    Aug 19, 2014, 2:07 PM EDT

    APTOPIX Brazil Soccer WCup Germany Argentina AP

    Hours after apologizing for trying to force a move to Manchester United, Argentina defender Marcos Rojo is commenting on said move.

  12. Tim Leiweke denies reports that he’s stepping down in Toronto

    Aug 19, 2014, 1:53 PM EDT

    MLS Toronto FC Gilberto Soccer AP

    The MLSE boss has been good for Toronto FC, bringing in Jermain Defoe and Michael Bradley, and is denying a report that he’s leaving town.

  13. Report: Malky Mackay wins Crystal Palace job over Tim Sherwood

    Aug 19, 2014, 1:24 PM EDT

    Cardiff City v Southampton - Premier League Getty Images

    Mackay’s hiring at Palace would be a reunion with sporting director Ian Moody, the latter also unceremoniously replaced at Cardiff

  14. Many changes in Dunga’s first Brazil call-ups since World Cup disaster

    Aug 19, 2014, 12:51 PM EDT

    Liverpool v Borussia Dortmund - Pre Season friendly Getty Images

    Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho is among the new names on the list.

  15. American teen Hyndman trying to earn Magath’s trust at Fulham

    Aug 19, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    www.fulhamfc.com www.fulhamfc.com

    Playing in the Championship club’s first two matches, both losses, Emerson Hyndman is being hailed as an ‘old head on young shoulders’

  16. Liverpool, Barca target could become youngest capped in Norway history

    Aug 19, 2014, 11:10 AM EDT

    http://www.fotball.no/ http://www.fotball.no/

    When Norway hosts the United Arab Emirates in Stavanger on Aug. 27, it could see Martin Odegaard break a 104-year old record.

  17. DC United executive steps up confidence in new stadium project

    Aug 19, 2014, 10:31 AM EDT

    DC United DC United

    Good news or just politics as usual for DC United fans?

  18. Americans Abroad Wrap: US teenagers go distance for Fulham, Utrecht

    Aug 19, 2014, 9:26 AM EDT

    Chelsea U18 v Fulham U18 - FA Youth Cup Final: Second Leg Getty Images

    Brad Guzan had a better weekend than Tim Howard, as the Yanks in the Premier League witnessed a mixed bag of fortunes.

  19. Report: Pair of World Cup stars undergoing medicals at QPR

    Aug 19, 2014, 7:46 AM EDT

    Brazil Soccer WCup Netherlands Chile AP

    Could players from Norwich City and Napoli be heading to Harry Redknapp’s Premier League side, along with Niko Kranjcar?

  20. Premier League Player of the Week – Matchday 1

    Aug 18, 2014, 11:58 PM EDT

    Sterling AP

    Life after Luis Suarez isn’t too bad for Liverpool thanks to this guy…

Featured video

Top five PL goals, Week 1