FIFA are under pressure to make another late change to the World Cup by expelling Ecuador due to mounting evidence that they qualified for the tournament with an ineligible player using a fake passport.
Sportsmail has obtained documents showing that Byron Castillo, a right-back who made eight appearances during World Cup qualifying, is a Colombian national who has never held Ecuadorian citizenship.
Ecuador are due to kick off the World Cup against hosts Qatar on 20 November, a fixture which was brought forward by 24 hours this week in another controversial decision by FIFA, who now have more questions to answer about the tournament’s opening game.
The extraordinary case, which features allegations of illegal immigration and falsified birth certificates, could also have implications for England‘s World Cup campaign as they could meet Ecuador in the last 16. Gareth Southgate‘s side will face the runners up from group A in the second round if they win their group, with Ecuador or Senegal their most likely opponents rather than Qatar or Holland.
The question marks surrounding Castillo’s nationality were brought to FIFA’s attention by the Chilean FA, who finished below Ecuador in South American’s qualifying competition but claim the results in matches between the two countries were illegitimate given an ineligible player’s involvement. FIFA dismissed their initial complaint and the matter is now in the hands of FIFA’s Appeals Commission chaired by American lawyer Neil Eggleston, who is due to make a ruling later this month.
Sportsmail has obtained some of the documents upon which Chile’s appeal is based, which appear to demonstrate that Castillo was born in Tumaco in Colombia. There are two birth certificates registering slightly different names connected to the player – one from Colombia (Bayron Javier Castillo Segura) and another from Ecuador (Byron David Castillo Segura.)
Byron Castillo played eight times as Ecuador qualified for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar
But Sportsmail has seen documents which appear to confirm Castillo is Colombian
The Colombian certificate states that Castillo was born on 25 July 1995 and the Ecuadorian certificate has his date of birth as 10 November 1998. Both certificates declare the name of the same father (Harrinson Javier Castillo) and mother (Olga Eugenia Segura Ortiz), both of whom are Colombian.
Amidst this confusion the Chilean FA have obtained a baptism certificate from Tumaco (Colombia) in the name Bayron Javier Castillo Segura, but one does not exist in the name of Byron David Castillo Segura. The birth certificate of Colombia has been validated by the birth registry and ministry for foreign relations, but the birth certificate of Ecuador was not recognized by the country’s civil register. In addition, the signature of the father Harrinson Jose Castillo in the Ecuadorian document does not correspond to the signature in the Colombian document.
Castillo has never publicly addressed the issue of his nationality, but in addition to the documents there is considerable circumstantial evidence to suggest he is Colombian. His sister, Maria Eugenia Castillo Segura, was born and lives in Tumaco, whereas no family members have been found to clarify the identity of the Colombian Bayron Javier Castillo Segura.
The tournament will mark just the fourth time Ecuador have appeared at the World Cup finals – but they could still be thrown out
The doubts over Castillo’s identity are long-standing and first emerged in 2015 when his proposed transfer between two Ecuadorian clubs Norteameria and Club Emelec collapsed due to ‘irregularities’ in his documentation. In 2018 Norteamerica were suspended by the Ecuador Football Federation [FEF] after being found guilty of sponsoring and benefitting from players’ falsified documents. Later that year a report from the General Director of the Civil Register in Ecuador declared that Castillo’s Ecuadorian birth certificate did not exist in its internal records, and concluded it was false.
The Chilean FA are contending that Castillo was an illegal immigrant in Ecuador who has never been eligible to represent them despite winning 15 caps at youth level and making 10 senior appearances. Despite first complaining to FIFA last April there is concern that the world governing body are seeking to delay are final judgement on the case to avoid disrupting the World Cup, as well as denying Chile time to take the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport if they lose the appeal.
‘FIFA are doing everything they can to delay the case as they know the player is Colombian,’ a source close to the case told Sportsmail. ‘There’s an epidemic of players with false documents in Ecuador, but FIFA are doing nothing about it.’
There is concern that the world governing body are seeking to delay are final judgement on the case to avoid disrupting the World Cup