The Chilean soccer federation has called upon FIFA to investigate Ecuador after claiming that Ecuador fielded an ineligible player during World Cup qualifying.
Chile said that it has sent documentation to the FIFA disciplinary committee showing that Ecuador winger Byron Castillo used “a false birth certificate, false statement of age and false nationality,” was instead born in Colombia and is older than what his Ecuadorian document lists.
“All this, obviously, was fully known by the (Ecuadorean Federation],” the Chilean federation released in a statement. “The world of soccer cannot close its eyes to this much proof. The practice of serious and deliberate irregularities in the registration of players cannot be accepted, especially when we are talking about a world competition. There must be fair play on and off the field.”
With a fourth-place finish in World Cup qualifying, Ecuador claimed South America’s last automatic berth at the 2022 World Cup. Chile finished seventh in the standings behind Peru, which must take part in an intercontinental playoff in June, and Colombia.
While Castillo played in eight qualifiers, he did not play in Ecuador’s games against Colombia or Peru but did play in both games against Chile (a draw and an Ecuador win). If Ecuador has to forfeit those games for fielding an ineligible player, the five added points would theoretically be enough to see Chile jump into a tie on points with Peru for fourth in the qualifying standings.
The Ecuadorean federation later released a statement saying that it would prove to FIFA or any legal entity that its qualifying campaign was conducted in a fair manner, stating that Castillo is a Ecuadorean citizen and eligible to play for the side.
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It’s not the first time that an issue with Castillo has been raised. The New York Times reported that Ecuador had previously held off on playing Castillo until this year due to concerns over his eligibility.
“I think it’s a matter of playing it safe, avoiding problems,” said Carlos Manzur, the vice president of Ecuador’s soccer federation, last year per the Times. “I think he is a good player. If it were up to me, I would not have him play for the national team. I would not take that risk. I would not risk everything we are doing.”
Three World Cup places have yet to be awarded with June’s playoffs right around the corner. Peru will play either the United Arab Emirates or Australia, New Zealand will face Costa Rica and either Wales, Scotland or Ukraine will emerge from the remaining European playoff.
Meanwhile, Ecuador’s preparations for the World Cup continue. It was announced Thursday that La Tri would play Nigeria and Mali in a pair of friendlies in the United States next month. Ecuador was drawn into Group A at the World Cup with host Qatar, Senegal and the Netherlands.
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