FIFA rejects Chile’s appeal over Ecuador’s 2022 World Cup arrangement

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, based on the documents submitted, that the player would be considered to have permanent Ecuadorean citizenship in accordance with” football’s legal laws.

The ruling, which upholds a disciplinary ruling issued by FIFA from 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 opening match of the World Cup 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 federation can appeal the FIFA ruling to the Supreme Court of Sport – the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland – which can organize an urgent hearing and ruling before the World Cup.

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.

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 Ecuador had withdrawn from the dispute.

FIFA statutes include a section on national team eligibility when the state government has granted 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 Eaglestone, an American who was a former White House adviser 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.