The International Football Association announced, on Friday, that Chile lost its attractiveness to FIFA to replace Ecuador in the World Cup Qatar 2022.
FIFA rejected Chile’s argument that Ecuadorean player Byron Castillo was in fact Colombian and ineligible to play in qualifying for the tournament, in which Castillo played eight matches for Ecuador.
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FIFA said the appeals judges “considered on the basis of the documents submitted that the player would be considered to have permanent Ecuadorean citizenship in accordance with” football legal laws.
The ruling, which upholds a disciplinary ruling issued by FIFA in June and is likely to be referred to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), keeps Ecuador on track to play in Qatar – where they face the host nation in the World Cup opening match in Doha on November 20. The Netherlands and Senegal are also in Group A.
However, the legal challenge can continue in Chile.
The Chilean Football Association said it intends to appeal the FIFA ruling to the highest sports court – the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland – which can organize an urgent hearing and ruling before the World Cup.
“This is a dark day for football and the credibility of the system,” said Jorge Young, the general secretary of the Chilean Football Association.
“The world of football has heard a player who helped Ecuador qualify for the FIFA World Cup admit that he was born in Colombia and that he obtained an Ecuadorean passport using false information. No wonder he refused to participate in the FIFA hearing. What does that say about [the] Which appellate committee, in the face of all this, still fail to act?
“Of course we will refer this to the Court of Arbitration for Sport because the weight of the evidence is clear, and we urge the Appeals Committee to issue the reasons for the decision very quickly because there have been enough delays and unexplained delays in this case.”
Chile claimed it had evidence that Castillo was Colombian and should not appear to Ecuador.
Chile prepared its case after the World Cup draw was held on April 1, after FIFA and country organizers sold thousands of tickets and accommodation rooms for Ecuadorian fans.
“Never in my entire life as a lawyer have I seen such an injustice,” said Eduardo Carlizo, a lawyer for the Chilean Football Association.
“There are a huge number of documents which alone prove without any reasonable doubt that the player was born in Colombia. In addition, everyone heard his confession during an official investigation conducted by the Ecuadorean Federation. The player joked with the system not to attend a hearing and none of that has any effect.
“Obviously anything we can provide will not be enough to validate the claim. Sad day for football and fair play. The message is clear: cheating is allowed. We will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.”
Had Ecuador lost all eight of Castillo’s matches, Chile would have moved up to fourth place in automatic qualification in the South American qualifying group. Ecuador had withdrawn from the dispute.
The FIFA statutes include a section on national team eligibility when the state government grants citizenship to players.
“Any person with permanent citizenship that is not dependent on residency in a particular country is eligible to play for representative teams of that country’s association,” according to the laws.
Thursday’s appeal hearing was held remotely from Zurich, with only three judges present. The chief justice who oversaw the case was Neil Eggleston, an American who served as an advisor to the White House in Barack Obama’s second administration.
FIFA’s appeal committee rarely overturns a decision of the football body’s disciplinary committee.
Chile has filed complaints against an opponent in back-to-back World Cup qualifiers.
In the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, Bolivia lost two matches in which they submitted an ineligible player as a late substitute. FIFA has received complaints from Chile and Peru regarding Bolivia 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 lifted weeks after matches began.
This case ultimately hurt Chile. Three extra points were awarded to Peru that lifted them over Chile and in an intercontinental playoff they won to qualify for the 2018 tournament in Russia.
Then FIFA put in place stricter rules for the 2022 World Cup requiring all players in qualifying matches to produce a “valid international passport” for inspection by match officials.