Ecuador retains World Cup spot as Castillo is deemed an Ecuadorean national

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Ecuador will play at this year’s World Cup in Qatar after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Tuesday said Byron Castillo, whom Chile claimed was ineligible to play during the qualifiers, was deemed an Ecuadorean national.

Ecuador will, however, get a three-point deduction at the start of the qualifying campaign for the 2026 World Cup and must also pay a fine of 100,000 Swiss francs ($101,600) for the “use of a document containing false information”, CAS said.

CAS, sport’s highest court, added that the decision was based on the fact that the Ecuadorean authorities acknowledged Castillo as an Ecuadorean national.

Ecuador have been drawn in Group A alongside Qatar, Senegal and the Netherlands at the finals and the South American team will play the hosts in the opening match of the tournament when the World Cup kicks off on Nov. 20.

In September, FIFA had dismissed Chile’s appeal following their original complaint that Castillo was born in Tumaco, Colombia in 1995 and not in the Ecuadorean city of General Villamil Playas in 1998, as stated on his official documents.

However, CAS said the Ecuadorean Football Federation (FEF) violated Article 21 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code for the use of a document containing false information.

“While the player’s Ecuadorean passport was indeed authentic, some information provided therein was false,” CAS added.

“In particular, the panel was comfortably satisfied that the player’s date and place of birth were incorrect since the player was actually born in Tumaco, Colombia, on 25 June 1995.

“The panel deemed it necessary to hold the FEF liable for an act of falsification… even if the FEF was not the author of the falsified document but only the user.”

Ecuador have always denied that the player was ineligible. The FEF said they used the correct eligibility criteria to select Castillo and that they were analysing the next steps as they did not agree with the sanction imposed.

Castillo played in eight of Ecuador’s qualifying games — including twice against Chile — for the World Cup as they finished fourth to secure a place at the finals.

Peru finished fifth in South American qualifying, missing out on the last automatic spot for Qatar, while Chile finished seventh.

Regarding the points deduction imposed on Ecuador in the qualifying campaign for the 2026 World Cup, CAS said,”The panel determined that the three-point deduction should not be imposed in the present preliminary competition to the FIFA World Cup, but rather in the next edition, considering that the player was eligible to play in the preliminary competition to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.”