Are Ecuador out of World Cup 2022? FIFA investigation into nation’s football team - and who could replace them
The South American nation could be kicked out of Qatar finals, as reports suggest former Barcelona Sporting Club defender Byron Castillo is investigated
There could be a change to the line-up of the FIFA World Cup finals this year, with a decision set to be made on Ecuador’s involvement later this week.
The South American nation could be kicked out of the finals and replaced if an investigation by football’s governing body concludes that Byron Castillo, a right-back who was capped eight times during their qualification campaign, is in fact ineligible to represent the country.
The Daily Mail have published a detailed account of Castillo’s alleged deception that points towards Ecuador potentially being thrown out of the finals.
They were drawn in a group alongside host nation Qatar, Senegal and The Netherlands.
Here is what we know so far from other sources about the investigation and who is likely to replace Ecuador - if they are indeed removed from the tournament:
Why are Ecuador being investigated and who is Byron Castillo?
The entire investigation appears to centre around Castillo, with SportsMail’s evidence suggesting the former Barcelona Sporting Club right-back was in fact born in neighbouring Colombia and therefore shouldn’t have represented Ecuador.
Similar accusations first arose against Castillo in 2017, when he was with the Ecuador Under 20 squad, and in 2019 he was alleged to have tampered with his birth certificate.
A formal investigation began in February 2021 and was concluded in April 2022 - finding that Castillo was eligible to represent Ecuador.
However, the investigation was reopened in May after the Chilean Football Federation submitted a complaint to FIFA about Castillo’s nationality.
FIFA closed the investigation after less than a month, reaching the same conclusion as before and confirming Ecuador’s spot in the World Cup.
All appeared to be said and done until this month when SportsMail released their evidence which is apparently audio from an interview between Castillo and the Ecuadorian FA, where the player allegedly admits to being born in Colombia, altering the age on his birth certificate and entering Ecuador illegitimately.
FIFA’s Appeals Commission have reopened the investigation and, if they find the evidence to be credible, could take the decision to expel Ecuador from the World Cup finals in Qatar this year.
Who would replace Ecuador if they are kicked out of the World Cup?
With Ecuador being placed in Group A of the finals their place could have a direct impact on who England and/or Wales face in the first knockout round - should either side make it to that stage.
Ecuador are in with host nation Qatar as well as Senegal and The Netherlands, while England and Wales are in Group B with Iran and the United States of America.
The winner of Group A faces the runner-up of Group B in the first knockout round and the winner of Group B faces the runner-up of Group A.
If Ecuador are kicked out, they would most likely be replaced by Chile - the federation who launched the complaint against Ecuador earlier this year.
Castillo played in both qualifying matches for Ecuador against Chile where his team won one and drew one.
FIFA precedent would likely mean all matches in which Castillo played having their results overturned and awarding 3-0 victories to their opponents.
That would mean that Chile go from having earned one point against Ecuador to bagging six, which would see them jump to fourth in CONMEBOL standings - ahead of Peru on goal difference.