ZURICH: FIFA has denied a claim from the Bolivian federation that it has returned four World Cup qualifying points which were deducted earlier this week as punishment for fielding an ineligible player.

FBF president Rolando Lopez had told local media that FIFA had revoked its decision to award 3-0 walkover wins to Chile and Peru after Bolivia fielded Paraguay-born Nelson Cabrera, who was not eligible to play. Bolivia had beaten Peru 2-0 and drawn 0-0 with Chile.

Lopez said: “The country can remain absolutely at ease. The points have been returned to us, everything is as it should be.” He quoted a fax which he said had been sent by FIFA allegedly telling the FBF to “dismiss the content of the decisions which were notified on November 1”.

Shortly afterwards, according to Reuters, FIFA denied his version.

FIFA, via Twitter, said: “The sanction on Bolivia is maintained. The version circulating about the return of the points to Bolivia is incorrect.” The FBF has been told only that it has the right of appeal against the punishment.

Under FIFA rules, players can only play for an adopted country if they have lived and played there for five years, and provided they have not featured in a competitive game for another national side.

Cabrera played for Paraguay in a friendly, which would not have been a problem but moved to Bolivia four years ago from a club in China.

The decision was a boost for Chile as the two extra points took them up from seventh to fifth in the South American group and ahead of Argentina on goal difference. Both teams have 16 points from 10 games.

The top four teams qualify directly for the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the fifth enters a playoff against a side from another continent.