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Meerkat 08-31-2006 06:36 PM

Nigeria's Martins in age row
Nigeria striker Obafemi Martins is at the centre of an age dispute that has alarmed his Italian club Internazionale.

Although Martins' date of birth on his passport states 28 October 1984, the website of the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) said he was born on 1 May 1978.

The discrepancy was uncovered by Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera which published the information that has cast a cloud over Martins' age.

"I was seeking information on the website of the Nigeria Football Association, when I discovered the different birth date," journalist Filippo Ricci told BBC Sport on Wednesday.

"I was surprised to read this information and went ahead to write the story," Ricci said, adding that "the Nigeria Football Association may have some explaining to do."

A furious Martins told BBC Sport that the story has embarrassed him and his employers, and cast a shadow over his honesty.

"That wrong birth date must be taken down from the NFA's website as soon as possible," Martins told BBC Sport on Wednesday.

"I feel very bad about this situation and so does the president of my club.

"But fortunately my president knows that the [Nigeria Football Association] is not well organised."

A displeased Inter president Giancinto Facchetti released a statement on the club's website on Wednesday, stating their displeasure with the controversy.

Facchetti said Inter has written to the NFA demanding that "this error reported in several Italian newspapers today be corrected immediately."

"It is clear that they do not know anything about my age," Martins said.

"When this story came out in the papers, I felt that I have to do something about the situation.

"So many false things have been said about me in the past, including stories that I am a Cameroonian.

"I will call the NFA chairman and discuss this matter with him because it is making me very unhappy," Martins said.

Ibrahim Galadima, chairman of the Nigeria FA, told BBC Sport that he is yet to receive Inter Milan's complaint on the age controversy.

"I have not seen the letter yet, so I will deal with it as soon as it comes," he said.

"This situation is news to me, so I will have to find out who is responsible for publishing information on our website and get to the bottom of this matter."

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