Despite having shaved to look younger, Baghdad airport officials knew there was something fishy about Iraq's under-16 football squad headed Monday for a regional tournament in the Jordanian capital.
Several of the 23 players for the West Asia Football Federation (WAFF) tournament starting on Wednesday were found to be overage, said the Iraq Football Association (IFA), which immediately sacked the squad officials.
Officials at the airport confiscated nine passports after suspicions were raised over the dates of birth, an Iraqi football source told AFP, on condition of anonymity.
He said the players had shaved as instructed by team officials to look younger.
"The technical and administrative staff of the under-16s team have been dismissed and action will be taken against those players who falsified their age," said the IFA, which investigated after having been alerted by airport officials.
It was not the first such case of cheating in Iraqi football.
According to the association, 18 players were suspended earlier this year after also having tried to pass off as younger than their true age by tampering with their identity papers.
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