Ecuador kept its place at the World Cup after the decision of the sports court

GENEVA (AP) — Ecuador kept its World Cup spot thanks to a Swiss court ruling Tuesday, but will be stripped of three qualifying points for the 2026 tournament because of a false document used to obtain a passport for a Colombian-born player.

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

But CAS judges said Ecuador defender Byron Castillo was eligible under FIFA rules to play in the qualifying campaign and the World Cup in Qatar “given that the Ecuadorian authorities have recognized Byron Castillo as an Ecuadorian citizen”.

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 was used to obtain an Ecuadorian passport.

In Ecuador’s favour, CAS said “a number of mitigating circumstances” included that the football association had initiated disciplinary proceedings against Castillo “which were suspended by a decision of the Ecuadorian judiciary”.

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

Dropping three points in the South American qualifying group for the 2026 World Cup may not be so costly. The qualifiers for the tournament will see six of the 10 South American teams qualify directly – instead of the usual 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 delaying the point penalty was that the penalty would not apply to the 2022 World Cup because Castillo was technically eligible.

Ecuador claimed the fourth and final direct qualification spot in South America for the tournament which starts on November 20. Ecuador is in Group A with Qatar, the Netherlands and Senegal.


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