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The 11-day tournament begins Aug. 18, featuring 16 teams _ eight in the U.S. bracket and eight in the international bracket.

Keener has said Little League has been vigilant in trying to ensure that players are qualified for tournament play, especially since Almonte’s disqualification in 2001.

According to Wilson, there were no questions about the age or birth dates of the Ugandan players following Little League checks prior to the Middle East and Africa regional tournament earlier this month in Poland. The Ugandan team defeated a squad from Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, 6-4, on July 16 to advance.

Copies of documents were also checked by Little League officials at the Pennsylvania headquarters, and the players received visas from Poland for the regional tournament.

Stanley said complaints have arisen in previous years by other teams in its region about players’ ages. The Ugandan team this season was asked to supplement birth or age records with supporting documentation from school records “to be proactive,” Wilson said. The practice has also been requested of teams in other countries in the past, Wilson said.

No one party was at fault, Stanley said. He held out hope that the State Department might reverse course due to the Ugandan team’s historic success.

“We’re not trying to cheat anybody,” Stanley said, “but then the question is, `How do you prove a kid’s age?’”

Little League officials plan to meet in the next few days to determine how to proceed with the series, with a preference to maintain a 16-team field.

According to Little League, the last time a team that qualified could not make the trip was 1959. A squad from then-West Germany composed of dependents of U.S. Army personnel couldn’t make it because the team’s manager and coaches could not get away from their military duties.

At the time, just eight teams qualified for the tournament, and the 1959 series was played with just seven squads.


Lee reported from Washington.