Pictures of Lazio's Cameroonian midfielder Joseph Minala spread across the internet in February amidst accusations that he was actually in his early 40s. With just one look at his picture, it was widely believed that only an idiot would accept that he was actually 17 years old as both he and his club said because, after all, everything that's shared on the internet is believed to be true even after it's been proven false. And this rumor has now been proven false.
From the Guardian:
A statement released by the Italian association on Wednesday confirmed that Minala has been cleared and is now free to resume his career. “The federal prosecutor has examined the report and ordered the investigation to be closed,” the statement read. “There are no doubts about his age. He is 17.”
Despite Lazio's threats of legal action against anyone who accused Minala of falsifying his age, the jokes and abuse from fans and media all over the world became so distressing that he closed up his various social media accounts to try and shield himself from the nastiness that was suddenly being heaped upon him. For Minala this couldn't be dismissed as mere banter. Even rumors of age falsification could seriously impact his career before it even starts by scaring away potential suitors and limiting his transfer value.
The accusations persisted and resurfaced when he made his first-team debut in March. But now that the FIGC has cleared his name and the people who thought they were making fun of a middle aged fraudster have been proven to have been bullying a talented kid who, according to Italian journalist Max Evangelista, spent time in a Cameroon orphanage and survived what he describes as "not a happy life."
So count this as another resounding victory for uninformed mob justice.
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- Joseph Minala