Castillo’s background has been shrouded in questions for several years after a wider investigation into player registrations in Ecuador looked into hundreds of cases and resulted in punishments for at least 75 youth players found to have falsified records. Wary of a mistake that might jeopardize Ecuador’s World Cup hopes, officials from the national soccer federation had held off selecting Castillo until this year.
Two years ago, in fact, the president of a special investigation commission convened by the federation appeared to suggest Castillo was Colombian, something that Chilean officials now say they have substantiated.
“The level, both in quantity and quality, of the information and evidence that we have been able to collect has surprised even us,” Eduardo Carlezzo, a lawyer representing the Chilean federation, said Wednesday. Carlezzo claimed that in addition to an Ecuadorean birth certificate used by Castillo, there was also a Colombian one for a child with a similar name born in 1995 and whose parents have the same names as Castillo’s. “How could we not act with this level of evidence in hands?” Carlezzo said.
Concern over Castillo’s eligibility appeared to have concerned Ecuadorean officials as well. In March 2021, Carlos Manzur, the vice president of Ecuador’s soccer federation, suggested as much in comments reported by the local news media.
“I think it’s a matter of playing it safe, avoiding problems,” Manzur told reporters at the time. “I think he’s a good player. If it were up to me, I would not have him play for the national team. I wouldn’t take that risk. I wouldn’t risk everything we are doing.”
About a month later, an Ecuadorean court provided Castillo with an identification 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 games that included a 0-0 home draw with Chile. He has since played in eight games overall, including a 2-0 victory at Chile in November that all but ended the latter’s hopes of qualification.
After questions about Castillo’s eligibility were reported in regional media outlets, Manzur, the Ecuador soccer official, declared that any inconsistencies in Castillo’s documentation had been corrected and that his Ecuadorean identity had been confirmed. “The national team waited until that was corrected to incorporate the player into its squad,” said Manzur.