GENEVA (AP) — Ecuador retained its World Cup spot on Friday when a FIFA court ruling dismissed a complaint from Chile over a player deemed ineligible.
FIFA said its Disciplinary Committee had closed the procedure on the grounds that Ecuadorian defender Byron Castillo, who had played in eight qualifying matches, was not eligible.
The Chilean football federation claimed to have documents proving that Castillo is in fact Colombian.
Ecuador were in danger of losing all eight games due to 3-0 defeats and losing fourth place in the South American qualifying group that ended in March. Chile would have moved up to fourth in the standings and clinched the final automatic qualifying spot.
“After analyzing the submissions of all parties involved and reviewing all the elements submitted to it, the FIFA Disciplinary Committee has decided to close the proceedings against the (Ecuadorian Football Federation),” FIFA said. in a press release.
Chile can challenge the decision before the FIFA Appeal Committee and possibly later before the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The legal process could take at least several weeks, bringing uncertainty closer to the tournament to be played in Qatar from November 21 to December 18.
The World Cup draw took place on April 1 and Ecuador were drawn in a group with Qatar, the Netherlands and Senegal.
Both Ecuador and Chile last played at the World Cup in 2014 hosted by Brazil. Ecuador did not make it out of the group stage and Chile were eliminated by Brazil in the round of 16.
The two missed out on qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia after Chile also filed a complaint alleging a rival team fielded an ineligible player.
That deal – involving Paraguay-born Bolivian defender Nelson Cabrera – was successful but ultimately benefited Peru, who overtook Chile in the standings to reach the playoffs and qualify for Russia.
Peru are back in the international qualifiers next week after once again placing fifth in the South American group. Peru will face Australia on Monday in Doha for a place in the finals.
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