Ecuador keeps World Cup place after ruling by sports court

Nov 7, 2022, 7:11 PM | Updated: Nov 8, 2022, 9:59 am
FILE - Ecuador's Byron Castillo, left, and Japan's Shogo Taniguchi challenge for the ball during th...

FILE - Ecuador's Byron Castillo, left, and Japan's Shogo Taniguchi challenge for the ball during the international friendly soccer match between Japan and Ecuador as part of the Kirin Challenge Cup in Duesseldorf, Germany, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)

(AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)

GENEVA (AP) — Ecuador kept its place at the World Cup thanks to a Swiss court ruling on Tuesday, but will be deducted three points in qualifying for the 2026 tournament because of a false document being used to get a passport for a Colombia-born player.

The urgent ruling from CAS clears the way for Ecuador to play Qatar in the opening game of the tournament in Doha in less than two weeks. It also ended the hopes of Chile and Peru, who had each argued that they should replace their South American rival at the World Cup after accusing Ecuador of using an ineligible player in eight qualifying games.

But the CAS judges said Ecuador defender Byron Castillo was eligible according to FIFA rules to play in both the qualifying campaign and at the World Cup in Qatar “considering that the Ecuadorian authorities acknowledged Byron Castillo as an Ecuadorian national.”

However, the judges also said they accepted the argument that Castillo was born in Colombia and that false information about his date and place of birth had been used to get an Ecuadorian passport.

In Ecuador’s favor, CAS said “a series of extenuating circumstances” included that the soccer federation had started a disciplinary case against Castillo “which was halted by a decision of the Ecuadorian judiciary.”

CAS also imposed a fine of 100,000 Swiss francs ($101,000) which the Ecuador soccer federation must pay to FIFA — although that’s a small fraction of the $9 million that Ecuador is guaranteed as the minimum prize money for playing at the World Cup.

The three-point deduction in the South American qualifying group for the 2026 World Cup may not prove that costly, either. Qualifying for that tournament will see six of the 10 South American teams qualify directly — rather than the normal four — after the World Cup was expanded to 48 teams. It will be played in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

The court’s logic for deferring the points penalty was that the punishment should not apply to the 2022 World Cup since Castillo had been technically eligible.

Ecuador claimed the fourth and final direct qualifying slot in South America for the tournament that starts Nov. 20. Ecuador is in Group A with Qatar, the Netherlands and Senegal.

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Ecuador keeps World Cup place after ruling by sports court