Blow for Argentina as Bolivia botch threatens World Cup qualification

Their South American rivals fielded an ineligible player in two matches, with Chile moving into the final automatic qualifying spot as a result

Argentina have dropped out of the automatic qualifying positions for World Cup 2018 after Bolivia were found guilty of having fielded an ineligible player during two of their qualifying matches.

FIFA found that Nelson Cabrera’s appearances against Peru and Chile were in breach of its laws, and as such both of these nations have been awarded automatic 3-0 victories. 

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Bolivia had taken four points from these matches, having held Chile to a scoreless draw away from home in September five days after beating Peru 2-0.

However, it emerged that Cabrera was not a Bolivia national and was therefore ineligible to play in the matches.

As a consequence, Peru have an additional three points in their quest to reach Russia 2018 but more pertinently Chile have two extra marks, which have allowed the Copa America champions of 2015 and 2016 to leapfrog the team they beat in the final of both those competitions on the basis of goals scored.

FIFA confirmed the punishment via a press release: “The Bolivian Football Association (FBF) has been sanctioned for fielding an ineligible player in the preliminary competition matches for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ played between Bolivia and Peru on 1 September 2016 and between Chile and Bolivia on 6 September 2016.

"Both matches are declared to be forfeited and awarded 3-0 in favour of Peru and 3-0 in favour of Chile, with the FBF also receiving a total fine of CHF 12,000 after the FIFA Disciplinary Committee deemed the FBF liable for having breached art. 55 par. 1 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code (FDC) and art. 8 of the Regulations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™. Upon delivering its decision, the FIFA Disciplinary Committee referred to the wording of art. 55 of the FDC, which sets a clear sanction for any breach of eligibility rules.

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“The sanction relates to the player Nelson Cabrera who was fielded by Bolivia in breach of the rules on eligibility to play for representative teams set out in the Regulations Governing the Application of the FIFA Statutes.

“The sanction will have immediate effect.”