The 2022 World Cup Lineup Is Looking a Little Less Stable Right Now

Did Ecuador feature an ineligible player?

World Cup Draw
Davido, Aisha and Trinidad Cardona performs the Official Soundtrack Better Together with the Ecuador flag on the background during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Final Draw.
Marcio Machado/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

If you were looking forward to watching Ecuador compete in this fall’s World Cup in Qatar, you might need to put those plans on hold. Though the draw for this year’s World Cup is done, with only a few question marks remaining — mainly relating to one spot that three national teams are currently vying for — questions have emerged over the eligibility of an Ecuadorian player. Should they be deemed ineligible to play, Chile could be heading to Qatar in their place.

Luke Bosher at The Athletic has more details on what’s at stake here. At issue is Byron Castillo, who has played for Ecuador’s Barcelona S.C. since 2017. Chile recently filed a complaint with FIFA, claiming that Castillo was ineligible to play for Ecuador.

This is relevant for two reasons. The first is that, as Bosher notes, Castillo played in eight qualifying matches for the World Cup for Ecuador; the other is that, in 2016, FIFA sanctioned Bolivia for playing an ineligible player — one Nelson Cabrera — in World Cup qualifiers. As part of those sanctions, Bolivia’s opponents were awarded 3-0 victories in the matches in which Cabrera had played.

Should FIFA rule similarly in this case, it would likely mean that Ecuador would drop from fourth place in their qualifying group, and the team directly below them — which happens to be Peru — would take their place.

In response to The Athletic’s reporting, FIFA confirmed that they had received a complaint from Colombia, but declined to comment further.

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