"Most of the age cheating is intentional and aimed at securing victories in international youth competitions, or overseas contracts, especially in Europe," African historian Peter Alegi, author of "African Soccerscapes: How a Continent Changed the World's Game," told CNN.
"Almost everyone up and down the commodity chain is involved -- from coaches and recruiters to family and the players themselves."
A technically gifted defender, Mbemba played for three clubs in the Congo beginning in 2006,with his birth date registered at E.S. La Grace and Mputu as August 8, 1988 -- according to copies of official Congolese player photocards given to CNN -- before he joined MK Étanchéité.
The documents showing Mbemba's various ages were provided by the Brazilian agent Paulo Teixeira, who says he was called in by E.S. La Grace to obtain money they claimed was owed to them by Anderlecht for training the player in his formative years.
In attempting to verify these documents -- from FIFA, the various federations and clubs involved -- only the world governing body and the Belgian FA responded directly to CNN's request to confirm their authenticity, while a professional Belgian referee confirmed that the Anderlecht team sheet was the type of paperwork used in Belgian football.
"It goes by itself that it is impossible for the Belgian FA to control manually whether every player taking part in a game organized by our federation is also a member of our federation," said the Belgian FA in a statement.
"Weekly, the Belgian FA organizes more than 10,000 games all over the country (300,000 every year) and so far, most of the official match sheets are not digitalized.
Mbemba's talent ensured he quickly came to the attention of the Congo national coaches, though, with his birth date listed as 1988, Mbemba would have been ineligible for the 2012 Olympic Games if the DRC squad were to make it through the qualifying rounds.
That, according to an official of Congo's football federation, prompted authorities to turn the clock forward.
"We needed him, so we registered him as being born in 1991," explained the staff member of the Fédération Congolaise de Football-Association -- FECOFA -- who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the subject.
However the testimony of another Congolese player, Mike Cestor, who plays for fifth-tier English club Woking, suggests that the Mbemba case is not a one-off.
"I was selected for an Olympic Games qualifying match with Congo's under-23 team against Morocco," said Cestor.
"But it was a complete mess -- the organization, training and the trip itself. We were three new players who played in Europe.
"The FECOFA told us: 'We'll make a passeport provisoire,' " added Cestor, referring to the official document which is issued by a country's football association on behalf of the players and is submitted to match officials for a game.
"Every player had a passeport provisoire -- it was shocking, though, mine never arrived," said the Woking player, whose dream is still to play for the Congo national team despite the organization of the FECOFA..
"Before the game, one lady from Morocco was checking the passports. She was angry and she screamed in French: 'It's a disgrace! I never saw that in all my life!'
"She knew it was false but she couldn't do anything. Of course the dates of birth were untrue.
"The FECOFA and the staff write what they want, especially for the local players. It was comical. The FECOFA is the major source of the problems in Congolese football. Its organization is awful."
Asked why Mbemba had been allowed to play for the Congo with various different ages, FECOFA president Constant Omari declined to address the question.
"I'm a president of a federation. I don't know what presidents in the UK say, but here we do not comment on players' age," Omari told CNN. "I have strictly nothing to add."
He hung up before any other questions could be asked.
Meanwhile, Mbemba's prospects of securing that move to Europe gathered pace after he was spotted by Fabio Baglio, who also represents one of the DRC's leading players Dieumerci Mbokani -- also of Anderlechet -- and recently voted Belgium's player of the year.
It was thanks to Baglio's contacts that Mbemba was granted a trial by Anderlecht in June 2011.
Granted a residence permit the following month, Mbemba played in official games for Anderlecht, but one key piece of information had changed.