By Andrew Warshaw
September 1 – Chile’s protracted appeal over whether Ecuador should be kicked out of the World Cup finals for fielding an ineligible player has taken a significant twist with FIFA now agreeing to hear the case in mid-September.
Chile argue that the eight games in which Byron Castillo played in World Cup qualifying should have the results awarded to Ecuador’s opponents. This would mean that Chile would then qualify for Qatar rather than Ecuador.
Chile recently accused FIFA of dragging their feet, arguing that if the decision goes against them, they would not have time before the start of the World Cup to go all the way to the Court of Arbitration for Sport
The case is hugely important since Ecuador are due to take centre stage against hosts Qatar on the rearranged opening day of the tournament on November 20.
The Chilean FA have now been notified that a hearing will take place on September 15, with the presence of Castillo requested.
The news, leaked in Chile overnight, came via a letter from FIFA’s Head of Judicial Bodies (Adjudicatory) Julien Deux confirming that the appeal procedure will be heard by the FIFA’s Appeal Committee by video conference at its next scheduled meeting.
The Committee will be composed of Neil Eggleston (USA), Chairperson, Christian Andreason (Faroe Islands) and Salman Al Ansari (Qatar).
“We kindly inform the Ecuadorian Football Association, that it is requested to ensure, in the best extend possible, that the player Byron David Castillo Segura is made available for the hearing,” the correspondence is reported to have stated.
Whilst Chile have now got the hearing they have been striving for, eyebrows seem sure to be raised in Chile as well as independent circles that the three-man panel includes a Qatari who is unlikely to want to rock the boat given that Qatar are the tournament organisers and due to play Ecuador in the opening game.
Though similarly it could be argued that in a World Cup that has been mired by controversy and scandal since it was awarded, it is an opportunity to be seen to be doing the right thing – as long as it is done transparently.
Any late change in the schedule could severely complicate logistics and the entire group scheduling that also involves the Netherlands and Senegal.
Eduardo Carlezzo, the lawyer representing the Chilean FA, commented: “We thank FIFA for this clarity around our appeal hearing and for calling Byron Castillo to answer the many questions they must have regarding his eligibility and therefore Ecuador’s qualification for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
“We have provided a significant amount of evidence to FIFA proving that the player was born in Colombia and his Ecuadorian birth certificate is fake. Finally, on September 15 Byron Castillo has the opportunity to explain the situation and then, for the sake of fair play, justice can take its course.”
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