Ecuador will keep their spot at this year’s Qatar World Cup after football governing body FIFA said it had closed its case into claims from Chile that their South American rivals had fielded an ineligible player during qualifying.
Chilean football bosses claimed to have evidence that defender Byron Castillo – who played in eight qualifiers for Ecuador – was actually Colombian.
If FIFA had found that to be the case, Ecuador would have lost their place at the Qatar showpiece by forfeiting all the matches Castillo had played, allowing Chile to move above them into fourth place in the CONMEBOL qualifying table and take their place at the tournament.
In a statement Friday, FIFA said its investigations had been concluded in favor of Ecuador – but noted that Chile could appeal the decision.
“After analysing the submissions of all parties concerned and considering all elements brought before it, the FIFA Disciplinary Committee has decided to close the proceedings initiated against the FEF [Ecuadorian Football Federation],” read the message.
Ecuador will breathe a sigh of relief as they now seem set to line up in Qatar when the action gets underway in November.
The Ecuadorians have been drawn in Group A at the tournament alongside hosts Qatar, Senegal, and the Netherlands, and will be making what is their fourth World Cup appearance in their history.
The allegations against Castillo claimed that he had falsified documents to say that he was born in Ecuador in 1998 – rather than in Colombia in 1995 – and that the player had used forged information to state his eligibility to play for Ecuador.
Legal representatives for Chile had argued that Ecuador deserved “the harshest sanction” for the alleged wrongdoing – although FEF president Francisco Egas said triumphantly on Friday that “sporting justice has been done.”
“We always knew we were on the right side, let’s go Ecuador!” tweeted Egas, sharing a letter from FIFA informing of its decision.