Ecuador can still fly out of the World Cup in Qatar after new revelations about the case with the footballer Byron Castillo.
The right-back played in eight of the Ecuadorians’ qualifying matches, but a few months ago the Chilean Federation presented documents that the player in question actually has nothing to do with Ecuador and is not even 23 years old.
According to the Chileans, Castillo is actually three years older, plays with a fake birth certificate and was born in the territory of Colombia. Neither his parents are Ecuadorian, nor any of his relatives, which makes his participation for the national team absolutely irregular.
FIFA initially rejected Chile’s official appeal, but the case went to the Appeals Committee, and two days before the final decision, new and shocking material on the case came to light.
Britain’s “Daily Mail” has released an audio recording it claims is an interview by the Ecuadorian Football Association’s investigation committee with Byron Castillo.
In it, the player admits that he was born in 1995, not 1998, as it says on his birth certificate, with which he is registered and plays professional football.
He confirms his name is Byron Javier Castillo Segura, while his fake birth certificate turns out to have a different name, Byron David Castillo Segura.
The most shocking confession comes when the player tells how he was really born in Tumaco, Colombia, near the Ecuadorian border.
Castillo recounts how he left Colombia as a teenager to pursue a professional career in Ecuador, where he says the competition is far less and his chances of breaking through are strong.
He even reveals the names of the businessman who helped him obtain a fake birth certificate.
It is not clear whether anyone at the Ecuadorian football headquarters was aware of the case, but the speculation is that there must have been people who knew about the Castillo scam.
It has yet to be proven whether the recording is authentic, but initial reactions in South America are that it is indeed the player’s voice.
The new evidence could completely overturn the case and just two months before the start of the World Cup, Ecuador could be deprived of participation.
Ironically, it is Ecuador that is scheduled to open the World Cup with a match against host Qatar.
It is not at all clear how the procedure will be in case of possible expulsion of Ecuador. The team took fourth place in the standings, while fifth-placed Peru already played play-offs and was eliminated by Australia.
The Colombian team finished sixth, but Chile’s claims are that all matches with the participation of Byron Castillo should be removed from the ranking. In that case, it is the Chileans who rank fourth.