By Andrew Warshaw
June 13 – Ecuador has kept its place at the World Cup – for the time being at least – after FIFA threw out Chile’s protests over an ineligible player being fielded during the qualifying competition.
It had been widely anticipated that FIFA would discipline Ecuador but instead they closed the case after Chile disputed the nationality of full-back Byron Castillo (pictured).
The Chilean FA had lodged a complaint with FIFA against Ecuador over what it claimed was the “use of a fake birth certificate, false declaration of age and false nationality” in the case of Castillo. It claimed to have evidence that the player is actually Colombian.
If Chile had been successful, they would have leapfrogged Ecuador into direct World Cup qualification. Instead their hopes of an unlikely route to Qatar appear to have been dashed.
“After analysing the submissions of all parties concerned and considering all elements brought before it, the FIFA Disciplinary Committee has decided to close the proceedings initiated against the FEF,” said a FIFA statement.
“The Disciplinary Committee’s findings were notified today to the parties concerned. In accordance with the relevant provisions of the FIFA Disciplinary Code, the parties have ten days in which to request a motivated decision, which, if requested, would subsequently be published on legal.fifa.com. The present decision remains subject to an appeal before the FIFA Appeal Committee.”
The Chilean football federation said it would indeed appeal the decision, all the way to the Court of Arbitration for Sport if necessary.
“The eloquent and substantiated evidence we showed was not enough. Surprisingly the ruling was not in our favour,” Chilean FA president Pablo Milad told reporters in Santiago. “We are 1-0 down, but there is still the second half.”
By contrast Ecuador FA boss president Francisco Egas said Chile’s allegations had “hurt us a lot” and did not rule out legal action. “This is a subject to be analyzed by our lawyers,” he told reporters.
“We felt humiliated, we felt trampled by the great media campaign from the Chilean federation.”
Castillo, 23, played in both Ecuador’s World Cup qualifying matches against Chile: a 2-0 victory in Quito in September 2021 and a 0-0 draw in November.
Ecuador are in Group A with Qatar, the Netherlands and Senegal at the World Cup finals later this year but if Chile challenges Fifa’s ruling – first at FIFA’s appeals committee and potentially later at CAS – it could severely complicate logistics and organisation.
The legal process could take several weeks, heightening the uncertainty as the tournament, which kicks off on November 21, draws closer.
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