GENEVA – Chile has lost its appeal to replace Ecuador at the World Cup in Qatar, but a decision by FIFA on Friday will likely lead the case to the Court of Justice for Sport.
FIFA rejected Chile’s argument that Ecuadorian Byrne Castillo was actually Colombian and was ineligible to play in World Cup qualifying matches. Castillo played eight for Ecuador.
FIFA said its appeal judges “considered, based on the documents presented, that the player should be considered a permanent Ecuadorian citizen in accordance with the legal rules of football”.
The decision, which follows a FIFA disciplinary order from June, leads Ecuador to play Qatar in their World Cup opener in Doha on November 20. The Netherlands and Senegal are also in Group A.
However, Chile’s legal challenge could continue.
The Chilean Football Federation can now appeal against FIFA’s decision to the CAS in Lausanne, Switzerland. The Supreme Court of Sports can hold an urgent hearing and make a decision within nine weeks of the start of the World Cup.
Chile claimed to have evidence proving Castillo is Colombian and should never have played for Ecuador.
Chile made its case after the World Cup was drawn on April 1, and after FIFA and Qatari organizers sold thousands of tickets and accommodation to Ecuadorian fans.
Had Ecuador lost all eight matches that Castillo played, Chile would have reached the fourth automatic qualification spot in the South American qualifying group. Ecuador would be out of contention.
FIFA’s legal statutes include part of the national team’s eligibility when a state government grants citizenship to the players.
“Any person with permanent citizenship who is not dependent on residence in a particular country is eligible to play for the representative teams of that country’s association.”
Thursday’s appeal hearing was held remotely from Zurich, with only three judges present. The presiding judge of the case was Judge Neil Eggleston, an American who was a former White House counsel in the second administration of Barack Obama.
The FIFA Appeals Committee rarely overturns a decision by the Football Disciplinary Committee.
Chile has filed complaints against its opponent in the World Cup qualifying programs.
In the 2018 World Cup qualifying group, Bolivia lost two matches in which they substituted an ineligible player as a late substitute. FIFA received complaints from Chile and Peru about Bolivian defender Nelson Cabrera, who was born in Paraguay and previously played for the Paraguayan national team.
Bolivia lost an appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which said FIFA had the right to investigate even when protests were registered weeks after the games were played.
This case ultimately hurt Chile. The three extra points awarded to Peru lifted it above Chile and into the intercontinental game, which it won to qualify for the 2018 tournament in Russia.
FIFA then wrote stricter rules for the 2022 World Cup requiring all players in qualifying matches to produce a “permanent international passport” for inspection by match officials.