May 12 – Ecuador’s place in this year’s World Cup finals appears to be in seriously jeopardy after FIFA opened a disciplinary case looking into whether the country fielded an ineligible player during qualifying.
The move came after Chile filed a formal complaint alleging that Byron Castillo (pictured) is Colombian and should not have been allowed to play for Ecuador in eight qualifying games. The Chileans claim to have proof that he was born in Colombia and not in the Ecuadorean city of General Villamil as stated on his official documents. Chile also claims he used a false passport and birth certificate.
Ecuador now risks having to forfeit all eight games – including a win and draw against Chile.
Ecuador finished fourth in South American qualifying to grab the continent’s last automatic berth for Qatar and have been drawn in the same group as the host nation, the Netherlands and Senegal in the finals in November.
Chile finished seventh in qualifying but would move into the automatic places and a coveted spot in Qatar if it is awarded six points from its two qualifiers against Ecuador.
Importantly, Castillo did not play against fifth-placed Peru or sixth-placed Colombia.
The FIFA investigation will look at “allegations concerning the possible falsification of documents granting Ecuadorian nationality to the player.” A ruling will probably be needed within a month, ahead of the intercontinental playoffs.
Ecuador’s FA has fiercely rejected Chile’s claims and insisted that Castillo is legally an Ecuadorian citizen.
But they could be on dodgy ground depending on the outcome. In September 2016, FIFA sanctioned Bolivia for fielding an ineligible player, Nelson Cabrera, in 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Peru and Chile – who were subsequently awarded 3-0 wins.
If the same punishment was handed down to Ecuador, Chile would take their place at the tournament.
The FIFA statement read: “As recently confirmed by FIFA, the Chilean Football Association has lodged a complaint with the FIFA Disciplinary Committee in which it made a series of allegations concerning the possible falsification of documents granting Ecuadorian nationality to the player Byron David Castillo Segura, as well as the possible illegibility of the said player to participate in eight qualifying matches of the national team of the Ecuadorian Football Association (FEF) in the preliminary competition of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.”
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