World of Sport

Falcao tries to end age row with birth certificate, accused of Photoshopping it

World of Sport

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A TV news channel in Colombia shocked the world of football earlier this week by claiming that Monaco's £53 million signing Radamel Falcao was actually two years older than he had always claimed to be.

TV news station Noticias Uno alleged that the former Europa League and European Supercup winner is not 27 years old, but actually 29.

Their evidence came in the form of a series of registration documents from one of his primary schools, Colegio San Pedro Claver de Bucaramanga, which apparently showed that the striker was born on February 10 1984. (Obviously, he was on their books as a first year primary school student rather than a lethal centre forward.)

The star's FIFA registration states that he was born on the same date but two years later, in 1986; and Falcao has now shared with the world his birth certificate, backing up that later date.

The allegations threatened to spark a huge legal battle, with Monaco seemingly having paid massively over the odds for a player likely to enter decline soon, rather than one with years left at the top level.

Falcao hit back on Twitter a couple of days after the allegations, calling them "totally ridiculous" and adding that "I want to deny these claims and end this issue once and for all".

To that end the former Atletico Madrid striker sent his birth certificate to Colombian newspaper El Tiempo, seemingly putting an end to the matter and establishing that he was born in 1986.

Yet the conspiracy theorists are still convinced that Falcao has yet to disprove the matter.

Fans have taken to social networking sites and internet forums to try and insist that the copy of his birth certificate has been doctored in Photoshop.

"That poor quality scan is easily shoppable," said one, referring to the copy which has gone around the internet.

Another suggested that the player's birth could easily have been registered twice, and that a second birth certificate could exist in the same name but from two years' earlier.

Such refusal to believe the player begins to look faintly ridiculous in the light of the report in El Tiempo, whose journalist Paola Benjuema Brito claims to have made a trip to the civil registry offices in Santa Marta to see the original document first hand.

There is one part of the mystery yet to be solved. The school teacher who made the original claims also showed a photo of the youngster claiming to be from his first year at the school and purporting to be from 1989, showing a boy who very easily could be Falcao, but who looks around five years old rather than three.

As the story seems now, however, it seems that the use of the picture must have been part of a bogus false age report. If so, it seems that the footballer really has somebody who has it in for him since the same fake age allegations were made against him once before when he was a River Plate player in Argentina.

Just as well, really: as things stand, Falcao holds the record for being the youngest debutant in the top two tiers of Colombian professional football (he made his debut at the age of just 13), and he was also a member of the Colombian U20 side that won the U20 Copa America in 2005. We're pretty sure that both he and his team-mates from that latter squad wouldn't be too happy to be stripped of their winners' medals!

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