Chile challenges Ecuador’s World Cup spot

FILE - Ecuador's Byron Castillo, right, kicks the ball as Argentina's Nicolas Gonzalez closes in during a FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifying soccer match at Monumental Banco Pichincha Stadium in Guayaquil, Ecuador, March 29, 2022. A legal dispute over the World Cup erupted on Thursday, May 5, 2022, with Chile challenging Ecuador's place in the finals against a suspected ineligible player.  The Chilean football federation has asked FIFA to investigate its claim that Ecuadorian player Byron Castillo is in fact Colombian and not eligible to have played in the qualifying matches.  (Jose Jacome/Pool via AP, File)

FILE – Ecuador’s Byron Castillo, right, kicks the ball as Argentina’s Nicolas Gonzalez closes in during a FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifying soccer match at Monumental Banco Pichincha Stadium in Guayaquil, Ecuador, March 29, 2022. A legal dispute over the World Cup erupted on Thursday, May 5, 2022, with Chile challenging Ecuador’s place in the finals against a suspected ineligible player. The Chilean football federation has asked FIFA to investigate its claim that Ecuadorian player Byron Castillo is in fact Colombian and not eligible to have played in the qualifying matches. (Jose Jacome/Pool via AP, File)

PA

A World Cup legal dispute erupted on Thursday with Chile contesting Ecuador’s place in the finals over a player deemed ineligible.

The Chilean football federation has asked FIFA to investigate its claim that Ecuadorian player Byron Castillo is in fact Colombian and not eligible to have played in the qualifying matches.

The complaint comes more than a month after South American qualifying ended and Ecuador were drawn into a group with hosts Qatar, the Netherlands and Senegal.

“FIFA can confirm that it has received an official complaint from the Chilean FA regarding this matter,” the football governing body said in a statement.

FIFA has given no timetable for a possible disciplinary case before the World Cup kicks off on November 21.

Ecuador placed fourth in the South American qualifying group of 10 nations to qualify directly for Qatar. Fifth-placed Peru will play a playoff match next month against Australia or the United Arab Emirates.

Chile finished seventh, seven points behind Ecuador, but say they could advance if games involving Castillo are lost.

FIFA rules for ineligible players require the results to be overturned as a 3-0 loss.

Chile have now lodged complaints against an opponent’s player in back-to-back World Cup qualifying programmes.

In South America’s 2018 World Cup qualifier, Bolivia lost two games in which they fielded an ineligible player as a late substitute. FIFA had received complaints from Chile and Peru about Bolivian defender Nelson Cabrera, who was born in Paraguay and previously played for the Paraguay national team.

Bolivia lost an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport which said FIFA was right to investigate even when protests were filed weeks after the matches had ended. This affair ultimately harmed Chile. Three extra points awarded to Peru lifted them above Chile to enter an intercontinental qualifier which they won.

FIFA have drafted stricter rules for the 2022 World Cup requiring all players in qualifying matches to produce a “valid permanent international passport” for inspection by match officials.

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Naomi C. Amerson