Italian soccer team Lazio have been under some recent scrutiny due to claims made that their 17-year-old player Joseph Minala, who had recently been brought into the senior team, is actually 41 years of age. Minala has been criticized after posting photos of himself on different social media sites, these photos suggested to viewers that the player is much older than what is claimed. The player came under such pressure to the point where he deleted his several social media accounts.
The player has been facing this criticism since claims were made by Senegalese media outlet senego.net that the Cameroonian player confessed he would be turning 42 in August this year. The article also suggested that the player had changed his birth date in order to send money home to his family in Cameroon. Minala responded to these comments on the club’s official website, stating, “I have read the alleged statements posted on the website senego.net in which it says I confessed my real age which was different to what was stated in my [official] documents. They are false statements that have been attributed to me by people who do not know.”
The club has supported Minala in this time of criticism, so much to the point where the club has threatened to take legal action against anyone who questions the age of their “youth player”. Lazio have already been forced to release Minala’s birth certificate, which they have claimed is “absolutely legitimate”. Lazio have some support from Italian journalist Max Evangelista, who reports for the club’s youth team. Evangelista claimed that the accusations made against the player are “unbelievable.”
“He is a very reactive player. You could never say he is 41,” he told BBC World Service. “When you are surrounded by players running like devils around you, in my opinion it is very tough to be 41. He runs, he is fast. It is unbelievable news, that is why Lazio felt the need to deny it.”
In a way, the age of the player would only be a concern for legal reasons. If he can play football, regardless of age, let him play and not subject him to criticism.