FIFA’s appeals committee REJECTS bid to have Ecuador thrown out of the World Cup

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FIFA’s appeals committee have rejected a bid to have Ecuador thrown out of the World Cup – though Chile have vowed to appeal the decision.

Football’s governing body dismissed Chile’s argument that Byron Castillo was actually Colombian and ineligible to play in Ecuardor’s World Cup qualifying games.  

Sportsmail had previously revealed evidence by publishing an audio recording of Ecuador international Byron Castillo revealing birth details which matched his Colombian birth certificate earlier this week.

However, the decision means Ecuador are still going to play at the World Cup, though rivals Chile who had hoped to take their place, have insisted they will take the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

A statement from the general secretary of the Chilean Football Federation, Jorge Yunge, described the decision as a ‘dark day for football’.

FIFA’s statement over their decision though concluded that Castillo is considered to hold permanent Ecuadorian nationality and that they have closed the proceedings.  

The verdict, which upholds a FIFA disciplinary ruling from June, keeps Ecuador on track to play Qatar in the opening game of the World Cup in Doha on 20 November. The Netherlands and Senegal are also in Group A.

Ecuador have kept their place in the World Cup despite Bryon Castillo (pictured) admitting to being born in Colombia

Castillo (left) played against Chile in World Cup qualifying, who could have booked a last-minute ticket to the tournament in Qatar if Ecuador had been thrown out

FIFA’s statement on Friday afternoon read: ‘Having analysed the submissions of all parties and after a hearing had been conducted, the Appeal Committee confirmed the decision of the Disciplinary Committee to close the proceedings initiated against the FEF (Ecuador Football Association).

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‘Amongst other considerations, it deemed that on the basis of the documents presented, the player was to be considered as holding permanent Ecuadorian nationality in accordance with art. 5 par. 1 of the FIFA Regulations Governing the Application of the Statutes.

Yunge though said Chile would appeal to the CAS as the ‘weight of evidence is clear’. 

He said: ‘This is a dark day for football and for the credibility of the system. 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 Ecuadorian passport using false information. 

‘No wonder he refused to participate in the FIFA hearing. What does it say about Appeal Committee that confronted with all this still they fail to act? 

‘Of course, we will refer this to the Court of Arbitration for Sport because the weight of evidence is clear and we urge the Appeal Committee to deliver the grounds of the decision very quickly because there were enough unjustifiable delays and postponements in this case.’

Chile’s hopes of securing a last-minute ticket to the World Cup in extraordinary circumstances were thought to have been given a boost when Castillo failed to attend a FIFA Appeal Commission hearing into his nationality. 

Castillo was not willing to submit to cross-examination from the judges however, leaving Ecuador Football Federation officials to argue his case.

The Chile FA claimed to have documents proving Castillo was never eligible to represent Ecuador – and that as a result they should forfeit the qualifying matches in which he played, which would send Chile to the World Cup.

Castillo was a fixture in the Ecuador team for their World Cup qualifying campaign

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Castillo was a fixture in the Ecuador team for their World Cup qualifying campaign  

Though Chile could still appeal to the CAS in Lausanne, they are running out of time with Ecuador taking part in the opening game of the Qatar World Cup on November 20.   

Castillo, who plays as a right-back for Mexican side Club Leon, made eight appearances in World Cup qualify.

Sportsmail’s published audio recording of an interview in which Castillo gave to investigators four years ago, includes him stating he was born in 1995 as opposed to the 1998 date given on his Ecuadorian birth certificate. 

It also gives his full name as Bayron Javier Castillo Segura, matching the details of his Colombian birth certificate, rather than the name on the Ecuador certificate, Byron David Castillo Segura.

The audio describes in detail leaving the Colombian city of Tumaco for San Lorenzo in Ecuador to pursue a career in football and named an Ecuadorian businessman who provided him with a new identity. 

FIFA had summoned Castillo to attend Thursday's hearing of their Appeals Commission - only for the Club Leon defender not to show up

FIFA had summoned Castillo to attend Thursday’s hearing of their Appeals Commission – only for the Club Leon defender not to show up

The recording comes from a formal interview conducted by the head of the FEF’s Investigative Commission with Castillo in 2018. 

Sportsmail also published a letter outlining the conclusions of the Investigative Commission, which were delivered to the FEF’s president and Disciplinary Commission in December 2018.

The letter states that Castillo is a Colombian national who was born in Tumaco in 1995, as well as adding that they have audio proof of the player’s confession. Despite this in 2019 the FEF officially ruled that Castillo was an Ecuadorian citizen.

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FIFA have been investigating Castillo since April when they received an official complaint from the Chilean FA, who claimed that he was ineligible to represent Ecuador as he is a Colombian citizen who entered Ecuador as an illegal immigrant. 

Chile though have vowed to appeal the decision saying it’s a dark day for football.

Eduardo Carlezzo, lawyer of Chilean Football Federation, added: ‘I have never seen in my entire life as a lawyer an injustice like this one. There are a huge number of documents that, alone, prove without any reasonable doubt that the player was born in Colombia. 

‘In addition to that, everyone heard his confession, given during an official investigation carried by the own Ecuadorian Federation. 

‘Furthermore, the player joked with the system by not attending a hearing and nothing of that produced any effect. What else is needed? 

‘It clearly seems that anything we could be able to file would not be enough to validate the claim. Sad day for football and for the fair play. The message is clear: cheating is allowed. We will appeal to CAS.’

Castillo played eight times as Ecuador qualified for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar

Castillo played eight times as Ecuador qualified for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar

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