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Chile Loses Appeal Looking for Ecuador’s Place in World Cup

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Chile failed Friday in its latest try and have its South American rival Ecuador thrown out of soccer’s World Cup, one other setback in a high-stakes campaign that threatened to change the sphere for the game’s showcase championship only two months before the tournament’s opening match.

An appeals committee at soccer’s governing body, FIFA, rejected Chile’s newest claim, agreeing with an earlier decision by a disciplinary panel to reject the contention that Ecuador had fielded an ineligible player in several qualification matches. The FIFA appeals panel provided few details on the way it reached its decision, though it said the indisputable fact that Castillo held everlasting Ecuadorean citizenship as justification for siding with the unique verdict within the case.

The case involves the Ecuador defender Byron Castillo, who Chile contended was not only born in Colombia but in addition three years older than is stated on the documents used to discover him as Ecuadorean.

Chilean officials said they’d make one final try and overturn the choice, and strip Ecuador of its place within the tournament, by appealing to the ultimate arbiter of sports disputes, the Lausanne-based Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The fight over the eligibility of the 23-year-old Castillo, who plays professionally in Mexico, has for months generated uncertainty over Ecuador’s place on the World Cup, which opens in November. One among 4 qualifiers from South America, Ecuador is scheduled to face host Qatar within the tournament’s opening game on Nov. 20.

Chile, which filed the appeal that also required Peru’s federation to make a submission, has for weeks fought a public battle to denounce Ecuador and Castillo. Under FIFA rules, fielding an ineligible player could lead to a forfeit of any match through which that player took part.

Ecuador finished fourth in South America’s qualifying competition, claiming certainly one of the continent’s 4 automatic places within the World Cup. But Chile had demanded that Ecuador forfeit the eight qualification games through which Castillo appeared, and that its opponents in those matches be granted three points per game. That consequence, Chilean officials had calculated, would rearrange the qualifying leads to South America and lift Chile into fourth place, and into the World Cup, at Ecuador’s expense.

To support its claim that Castillo shouldn’t have been allowed to play for Ecuador, Chilean officials scoured public records and social media posts and hired media consultants in Europe to maintain attention focused on its case, and its claims. Chile’s federation, meanwhile, sent to FIFA registry documents, including birth certificates and other evidence — even paperwork that, it said, proved where and when Castillo was baptized.

Only days before the appeal hearing, Chilean officials also secured an audio recording from a 2018 investigation through which Castillo appeared; in it, the player looked as if it would confirm details of his formative years in Colombia. That recording was then published by news media.

A FIFA disciplinary committee had rejected the claims against Castillo and Ecuador in June, however the organization’s rules allowed Chile to make its case anew to an appeals body. The hearing took place via video conference on Thursday but Castillo didn’t participate though he had been required to affix.

“The footballing world heard a player who helped Ecuador qualify for the FIFA World Cup admit he was born in Colombia and that he gained an Ecuadorean passport using false information,” said Jorge Yungue, the final secretary of the Chilean soccer federation. “No wonder he refused to participate.”

“What does it say about appeal committee that, confronted with all this, still they fail to act?” he added in an announcement that confirmed Chile’s intention to go to CAS.

Castillo’s background has been shrouded in questions for several years. A wider investigation into player registrations in Ecuador looked into tons of of cases and resulted in punishments for not less than 75 youth players found to have falsified records. Wary of a mistake that may jeopardize Ecuador’s World Cup hopes this yr, officials from its national soccer federation had held off on choosing Castillo for the senior national team until this yr.

Two years ago, actually, the president of a special investigation commission convened by the federation appeared to suggest Castillo was Colombian, something that Chilean officials said that they had substantiated. Ecuador’s federation finally chosen Castillo for the national team after his nationality was recognized and formalized by judicial bodies in that country.

For FIFA, the lingering case has been an extra burden because it grapples with ongoing concerns in regards to the preparedness for Qatar to stage the World Cup. It got an assist from Ecuador in August, when the country’s soccer federation agreed to a request that its game be moved a day earlier in order that Qatar could play within the tournament opener on a day freed from other matches.

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