Accusations that Ecuador fielded an ineligible player could hold the South American side from playing in the 2022 World Cup.

The Chilean Soccer Federation filed a complaint that Byron Castillo used a false birth certificate and nationality. Therefore, the 23-year-old defender should not have been allowed to play in CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifying. After 18 games, Ecuador finished in fourth. Chile finished seventh, seven point behind the Ecuadorians.

Chile claims that Castillo was born in 1995 in Tumaco, Colombia. His official papers state that Castillo was born in General Villamil Playas, Ecuador, three years after that. The player under question played in both of the games against Chile, yielding a win and a draw against the Chileans.

Team Games Played Points Goal Differential
Brazil 17 45 35
Argentina 17 39 19
Uruguay 18 28 0
Ecuador 18 26 8
Peru 18 24 -3
Colombia 18 23 1
Chile 18 19 -7
Paraguay 18 16 -14
Bolivia 18 15 -19
Venezuela 18 10 -20

Ecuador could miss World Cup due to potential ineligible player

If Chile gets its way, it would vacate the wins as forfeits. Therefore, Chile would receive a pair of 3-0 wins instead of just one point from two games. The extra five points and boosted goal differential would be enough to leapfrog Peru.

Consequently, Chile would earn a group stage spot in the World Cup.

Castillo did not face Peru or Colombia. Therefore, if Chile’s allegations are true, those points would not change.

The Federation of Ecuadorian Football, FEF, responded to the claims by saying these are “unfounded rumors.”

Byron Castillo

This is not the first incident regarding Byron Castillo’s eligibility with Ecuador. Back in 2017, the Ecuador U-20 team dismissed Castillo due to inconsistencies in his paperwork.

An ensuing investigation from the Ecuador Federation confirmed that the player was, indeed, born in Tumaco.

Throughout Ecuador’s qualification campaign, Byron Castillo appeared in eight of Ecuador’s 18 matches. He made seven starts, helping the team to secure 14 of its eventual 26 points.

Castillo played a big role in both of Ecuador’s matches against Chile, which sealed the countries second consecutive absence from the competition.

Chile continued to dispute the players involvement to FIFA. It suggested Ecuador forfeit all the matches Castillo participated in. As a result, each forfeit would give the other team three points for each forfeiture.

Qualification for the World Cup

Ecuador’s spot at the World Cup would be gone as a result of this ineligible player. Moreover, there would be a shakeup for the World Cup group stage and qualification as a whole.

If Chile is able to overturn the results of qualification, the current group stages would change.

For starters, Ecuador would, more or less, be replaced by Chile. The FIFA World Cup draw put Ecuador in Group A as a Pot 4 team with the hosts Qatar (Pot 1), Netherlands (Pot 2) and reigning African champions, Senegal (Pot 3).

Peru, which came in 5th, is scheduled to play either Australia or the United Arab Emirates in an intercontinental playoff. A potential shakeup in the standings could see Peru receive an automatic spot. As the 22nd-ranked team in the world, it would be an automatic qualifier as a pot three team.

FIFA requested Peru to take a position on the case in order to proceed with further investigations. As of now, Chile is the only nation to make claims to FIFA.

PHOTO: Maddie Meyer – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images