Ecuador cleared for Qatar 2022 opening game after CAS rules Castillo was eligible

By Andrew Warshaw

November 9 – World Cup organisers are breathing a sigh of relief after Chile’s protracted appeal to have Ecuador thrown out of the competition was rejected at the 11th hour by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Chile, joined in their protest by Peru, had argued that their south American counterparts should be kicked out for fielding an ineligible player in qualifying.

They appeared to have a strong case that FIFA’s own eligibility rules were broken, arguing that the eight games in which Byron Castillo (pictured) played in World Cup qualifying should have the results awarded to Ecuador’s opponents. This would have meant Chile qualifying at Ecuador’s expense.

But perhaps in the knowledge that upholding the appeal would lead to a logistical nightmare in Qatar, FIFA in September dismissed Chile’s case that Castillo was actually Colombian even though there appeared to be ample documentation to prove it – and CAS has agreed.

The ruling means Ecuador will line up as planned against Qatar in Sunday’s World Cup opener. But it didn’t go entirely their own way with CAS handing them a three-point deduction at the start of the qualifying campaign for the 2026 World Cup.

The Ecuadorian FA was also ordered to pay a fine of CHF100,000 for the “use of a document containing false information.”

Justifying its main ruling, CAS said: “Since the nationality of a player with a national association is determined by national laws (subject to time limits in case of a change of sporting nationality, which was not the case here), Byron Castillo was eligible to play … in the preliminary round of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.”

CAS added that the decision was based on the fact that the Ecuadorean authorities acknowledged Castillo as an Ecuadorean national.

Chile’s original complaint cited the fact that Castillo was born in Tumaco, Colombia, in 1995 and not in the Ecuadorean city of General Villamil Playas in 1998, as stated on his official documents.

CAS acknowledged this but stopped short of ordering Ecuador’s expulsion.

“While the player’s Ecuadorean passport was indeed authentic, some information provided therein was false,” CAS said.

“In particular, the panel was comfortably satisfied that the player’s date and place of birth were incorrect since the player was actually born in Tumaco, Colombia, on 25 June 1995.

“The panel deemed it necessary to hold the FEF liable for an act of falsification… even if the FEF was not the author of the falsified document but only the user.”

Ecuador, who finished fourth in South American qualifying to reach Qatar, have always denied that the player was ineligible

But Eduardo Carlezzo, lawyer for the Chilean Football Federation, did not mince his words at the CAS verdict.

“From the moment I took on this case we were convinced that the Ecuadorian Federation was guilty of a deliberate cover-up when it came to Byron Castillo’s personal documentation,” he said in a statement.

“Today, CAS recognised the falsification, and the fact that the player was born in Colombia and has finally brought sanctions against Ecuador. Whilst we are pleased to see some measure of justice, we are disappointed with the level of sanctions as they do not send a strong enough message to the football community.”

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