Four-time World Cup winners seem to still hold on to the possibility of booking their ticket to Doha in November, but how so?
Italy might still have a spot in Qatar’s upcoming 2022 World Cup if Ecuador gets banned, an Italian sports figure said, despite FIFA’s President Infantino brushing the speculations off.
Former member of the Italian National Olympic Committee Franco Chimenti, also a former member of the CONI committee, believes that the European country’s ticket to Doha is ‘more concrete than people realise.’
After losing 1-0 to North Macedonia in the playoff semifinals in March, the Azzurri could not qualify for the World Cup for the second time.
However, the current head of the Italian Golf Federation and a previous member of the CONI committee, still thinks the four-time title winners still have a real opportunity to battle for the fifth title in November.
“There is still a chance to see Italy at the World Cup and it’s more concrete than what people think,” he told GR Parlamento.
“Apparently, Ecuador has used a player who was not allowed to be on the pitch and could pay for it. If it happens, another country should replace them and the FIFA rules state that the highest country in the FIFA ranking should be recalled, at the moment, it is Italy.”
Chile’s accusations against Ecuador
Earlier this month, the Chilean Football Association submitted documentation to the football governing body’s disciplinary committee accusing Ecuador of allegedly fielding an ineligible player.
The country said that South American country’s winger, Byron Castillo, used ‘a false birth certificate, false statement of age and false nationality,’ as he was born in Colombia not Ecuador, and is older than what his Ecuadorian paperwork states.
“The practice of serious and conscious irregularities in the registration of players cannot be accepted, especially when we are talking about a world competition,” Chile’s soccer federation said in a statement after filing the complaint.
According to FIFA rules, playing an ineligible player can result in a forfeit or multiple ones. This penalty has the potential to completely change the South American qualifying outcomes, potentially kicking out Ecuador from the grand tournament and leaving one spot open for a lucky team.
Ecuador finished fourth in Qatar’s recent qualification campaign, earning one of the continent’s four automatic World Cup slots in November.
The allegedly ‘ineligible player’ competed in eight matches, including twice against Chile.
However, Chile is demanding that Ecuador forfeits all eight qualifying games in which Castillo partook, with the opponents earning three points per game automatically. FIFA has opened an investigation into the case, and if they agree, Chile could potentially be able to compete in the World Cup.
But Chile is not the only team eying the potential spot.
According to the La Repubblica, FIFA could make one of two options: Ecuador could lose points earned in games where Castillo played, allowing Chile to finish ahead of Ecuador in the qualification group, or exclude the country and award the World Cup ticket to another country.
In this circumstance, the Azzurri would have a chance, given they currently hold the highest FIFA ranking.
FIFA’s President Infantino, however, holds another opinion. The football official dismissed the speculations that Italy could be called up for the 2022 World Cup. “Please be serious,” he told media on his most recent visit to Florence.
World Cup 2022 hosts Qatar are scheduled to play against Ecuador at the Al-Bayt Stadium on November 21. If FIFA proves Chile’s claim, Ecuador might be replaced with Chile or Italy.