2026 World Cup Qualifiers: The Controversial Case of Byron Castillo and Ecuador’s Battle for Points

2023-11-19 03:57:40

Looking at the standings for the 2026 World Cup Qualifiers, Ecuador and Chile (who face each other this Tuesday, in Quito) are tied on five points. But there is a great detail: the Tri started with -3. The reason is the punishment for the Byron Castillo case, triggered by the complaint of the Chilean Football Federation, as a last administrative instance to enter the Qatar World Cup in the place of the Ecuadorians, alleging improper alignment of the footballer. Finally, the Guayas team participated in the World Cup, despite all the legal maneuvers that the ANFP made through the Brazilian lawyer Eduardo Carlezzo and the evidence that ended up proving that the full-back was born in Colombia.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (TAS) itself determined that Castillo’s registration as an Ecuadorian citizen was carried out by the Football Federation (FEF) with false information, which caused the sanction of loss of points for the 2026 Qualifiers and a financial fine. “The Arbitration Formation became convinced that the place and date of birth of the player in the passport were incorrect, since he was born in Tumaco, Colombia, on June 25, 1995,” indicated the CAS.

Today, the protagonist of this mess is outside the national team. For this reason, the question falls flat. What happened to Byron Castillo?

His last presence with La Tri was on November 12, 2022, in a friendly against Iraq, prior to the World Cup. Everyone’s eyes were on him and also on Gustavo Alfaro’s coaching staff, to know if the player was going to Qatar or not. By the way, that was the last game last year for Castillo, because he was injured and took him out of circulation until March 2023. Despite the injury, the former coach of Ecuador recently confessed that the decision not to take him to the World Cup was not his and that was the beginning of the end of his cycle.

“I refused to lower Byron, he had to go to the World Cup, he deserved it, and I told everyone because it was my position, but the decision was the Federation’s. That was the beginning of the end,” Alfaro told TyC Sports. After his participation in the World Cup, the coach left and not on the best terms with the FEF. Currently, he coaches Costa Rica. “Beyond FIFA’s ruling, if the player was eligible for the Qualifiers, he was also eligible for the World Cup,” he added.

Castillo had an important international projection as a right back. He stood out in Barcelona from Guayaquil and left for Mexico, beyond the back and forth of his case. In July of last year he was acquired by León, in exchange for 2.85 million euros. After undergoing surgery at the end of 2022, he returned to activity in March, although he did not manage to gain the desired playing time. In fact, he watched the 2023 Concachampions final from the bench. Last year he also had other personal problems, due to a trial due to a claim for alimony, which generated a restraining order.

In mid-2023 he is loaned to Pachuca, a team that belongs to the same León conglomerate. If you compare the previous season with the current one, there is a significant drop in his presence on the court. The 22-23 Liga MX campaign with the Fiera had him in 23 games (17 starts), adding 1,525 minutes and scoring a goal. The 23-24 season with the Tuzos shows this with 10 games played (7 starts) and 655 minutes. He has no notes.

Ecuador appealed to the Swiss Federal Court to appeal the CAS ruling on the subtraction of points. However, this instance reaffirmed the initial decision, proving that Castillo used fraudulent documentation. “The best lesson that Ecuador can give Chile, after everything they told us, is to beat them on the field,” said the president of the FEF, Francisco Egas. “I have called on people to encourage us, but without insults, because that can lead to a new sanction for the team,” he added. He stated that “the FEF acted in a good manner and respected all processes.”

Before the double date of the Qualifiers, Spanish coach Félix Sánchez urged people to forget about the sanction that was imposed on Ecuador for the case. “(The failure) we cannot control. We have to focus on what happens on the field, and from there try to continue adding so that we forget about that three-point disadvantage when we look at the classification in the near future,” said the former Qatar coach.

If Ecuador had started the Qualifiers like the rest, it would have eight points today. Byron Castillo is still making noise.

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