ZURICH -- Bone tests will be performed on soccer players at the Under-17 World Cup in Nigeria to catch teams with over-age players.
Soccer's governing body said Monday the MRI tests will "protect the integrity of the tournament" and serve "the spirit of fair play."
The decision follows reports from Nigeria that the host nation intended to select older players for the Oct. 24-Nov. 15 tournament. Nigeria, the defending champion, has a tradition of success at international age-group events but has been dogged by rumors of fielding ineligible players.
FIFA said MRI tests on wrist bones have been developed by its medical research center.
"MRI of the wrist can identify players who are definitely above 17 years," FIFA said in a statement. "It is reliable, evidence-based and safe for the player."
Players from the 24 competing nations -- which include Spain, Brazil and the United States -- will be randomly selected for testing.
FIFA said it encouraged the 24 teams to conduct their own tests to ensure all players comply with the age rule. Tournament regulations state players must be born on or after Jan. 1, 1992.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press