Castillo’s history has been shrouded in mystery for several years following a wider search of Ecuadorian player registrations that examined hundreds of cases and led to the punishment of at least 75 young players found to have falsified records. Cautious about a mistake that could jeopardize Ecuador’s World Cup hopes, national football federation officials have suspended Castillo’s selection until this year.
Two years ago, in fact, the chairman of a special commission of inquiry convened by the federation appeared to suggest that Castillo was Colombian, something Chilean officials now say they have documented.
“The level, both in quantity and quality, of the information and evidence we were able to gather surprised even us,” Eduardo Carlezzo, a lawyer representing the Chilean federation, said on Wednesday. Carlezzo claimed that in addition to an Ecuadorian birth certificate used by Castillo, there was also a Colombian for a child with a similar name born in 1995 whose parents have the same names as Castillo. “How could we not act with this level of evidence in hand?” said Carlezzo.
Concern over Castillo’s eligibility also appeared to affect Ecuadorian officials. In March 2021, Carlos Manzour, vice-president of the Ecuadorian football federation, suggested the same in comments made by local media.
“I think it’s a matter of playing safely, avoiding problems,” Manzur told reporters at the time. “I think he is a good player. If it was up to me, I would not make him play for the national team. I would not take that risk. “I would not risk everything we do.”
About a month later, an Ecuadorian court handed Castillo an identity document that appeared to pave the way for him to make his national team debut, which he did about five months later in a set of home games that included a 0-5 draw. 0 with Chile. He has since played in eight games in total, including a 2-0 win over Chile in November that ended the latter’s hopes of qualifying.
After questions about Castillo’s eligibility were reported in the regional media, Manzur, the Ecuadorian football official, said any inconsistencies in Castillo’s documentation had been corrected and that his identity in Ecuador had been confirmed. “The national team waited until it was corrected to integrate the player into its team,” said Manzur.