November 2 – South America’s regional World Cup qualifying competition has taken a significant twist with Bolivia ordered by FIFA to forfeit two matches for fielding an ineligible player, a ruling that improves Chile’s chances but harms Argentina’s.
FIFA said Tuesday that Bolivia’s 0-0 draw with Chile and 2-0 win over Peru in September have now been changed to 3-0 losses by default.
As a result, Chile gains two points to lift it up into fifth, level with Argentina on points and goal difference. The fifth-place team ultimately enters a playoff against a side from Oceania to decide which of them advances to Russia.
The sanction relates to Nelson Cabrera who was fielded by Bolivia “in breach of the rules on eligibility to play for representative teams,” FIFA said in a statement.
FIFA received complaints from Chile and Peru about the Paraguay-born defender who previously played for Paraguay’s national team.
Bolivia used 33-year-old Cabrera as a late substitute in both disputed matches, in La Paz, Bolivia, on September 1, and five days later in Santiago, Chile.
Despite the sanction, Bolivia already had little chance of qualifying and will stay in ninth place in the 10-team group, now with only four points after 10 matches.
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