Ecuador Faces Losing World Cup Spot Over Alleged Ineligible Player

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Byron Castillo made 8 appearances for Ecuador in the World Cup Qualifying rounds. Source: insidethegames.com
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By Vihaan Majumdar

In a shocking twist, the Court of Arbitration for Sport has announced that they will hear an appeal lodged by the Football Federation of Chile over the decision by FIFA to allow Ecuador to play in the World Cup despite allegations that they knowingly fielded an ineligible player and covered it up.


The player in question is Byron Castillo, a right back who appeared for Ecuador 8 times in the qualifying rounds. Castillo’s immigration status had long been a source of controversy, having been removed from the Ecuador under-20 team over allegations that he was actually born in neighboring Colombia in 2017 and had illegally entered Ecuador. He was later accused of faking his Ecuadorian birth certificate in 2019, with a Colombian birth certificate suspected to be Castillo’s having been found.


Chile initially complained in May; however, after a month-long investigation, FIFA closed the case, declaring that Castillo was an Ecuadorian citizen.


However, Spanish sporting news site Marca later released audio recordings of interviews that were allegedly between Castillo and Ecuadorian Football officials. In it, Castillo gives his name as Byron Javier Castillo Segura and his birth year as 1995, both of which match his alleged Colombian birth certificate (his Ecuadorian birth certificate has him born in 1998 and his name as Byron David Castillo Segura). This evidence was not presented in the original trial. However, on further review, FIFA officials did not find the audio recording as sufficient to remove Ecuador, since Castillo also has a valid Ecuadorian passport.


Should Ecuador be removed, it remains to be seen who would take their place. Chile finished 6th in qualifying, and moving up to 5th would only entitle them to a playoff for the spot. However, Peru, who originally finished 5th, lost the playoff to Australia, and Ecuador being removed would mean they would earn the 4th spot, which guarantees a place in the World Cup.