KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Ecuador’s place at the World Cup finals in Qatar in November and December is in doubt after a protest that one of their players was ineligible to play in the South American qualifying competition.

World football federation FIFA has launched an investigation into the status of Ecuador’s 23-year-old right back Byron Castillo. Chile, who failed to qualify, claim that Castillo was not born in the country.

A FIFA statement said:

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.

If Castillo is proved to have been ineligible player various options are open to FIFA.

A ‘simple’ expulsion of Ecuador would see fifth-placed Peru take their spot in the final with Colombia moving up into fifth place and the right to an intercontinental playoff in Qatar next month against Australia or the United Arab Emirates.

However, if Ecuador were ordered to forfeit the eight matches in which Castillo played – which included home and away ties with the Chileans – then Chile would end up as the fourth place team. 

In 2017 FIFA punished Nigeria for using an ineligible player in a World Cup qualifier against Algeria. In that case Abdullahi Shehu played despite having previously received two yellow cards which ruled him ineligible. The match ended 1-1 but, on appeal, the result was overturned as a 3-0 win for Algeria.