FIFA announced Wednesday that it has launched an investigation into the Football Federation of Chile’s claim that the Ecuadorian Football Federation fielded an ineligible player during 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying.
The player in question is 23-year-old right back Byron Castillo, who took to the pitch in eight games for Ecuador during the CONMEBOL qualifying stage. Chile allege that Castillo was not born in Ecuador, but rather Colombia, and is three years older than what his Ecuadorian document lists.
World soccer’s governing body issued the following statement:
“As recently confirmed by FIFA, the Chilean Football Association has lodged a complaint with the FIFA Disciplinary Committee in which it made a series of allegations concerning the possible falsification of documents granting Ecuadorian nationality to the player Byron David Castillo Segura, as well as the possible illegibility of the said player to participate in eight qualifying matches of the national team of the Ecuadorian Football Association (FEF) in the preliminary competition of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™.
“Bearing the above in mind, FIFA has decided to open disciplinary proceedings in relation to the potential ineligibility of Byron David Castillo Segura with regard to the above-mentioned matches. In this context, the FEF and the Peruvian Football Association have been invited to submit their positions to the FIFA Disciplinary Committee.”
Under FIFA rules, fielding an ineligible player could result in a forfeit, or several of them. Ecuador earned South America’s final automatic berth into the World Cup after finishing fourth in CONMEBOL during the qualifying stage. Chile, meanwhile, finished seventh in the standings behind Peru and Colombia.
Among the eight games that Castillo played in, were two fixtures against Chile. The two teams played to a draw during the first leg, with Ecuador defeating Chile, 2-0, in the second leg. Should Ecuador be forced to forfeit every game Castillo played in as Chile is demanding, that would lift Chile into Ecuador’s spot for the World Cup. A straight disqualification would lift Peru into the final spot.
“All this, obviously, was fully known by the [Ecuadorean Federation],” the Football Federation of Chile said 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.”
Chile’s case, however, may have holes in it. Questioning Castillo is nothing new, as clubs as far back as 2015 have declined to complete transfers for him, raising issue with the authenticity of his age. The Ecuadorian legal system did its own investigation before allowing him to play for the national team and determined that he was eligible.
ESPN reported there could be a possibility that Chile is mixing up Byron with his older brother, Bayron, who is now deceased. The report says that Bayron may have been born in Colombia, with Byron being Ecuadorian.
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