Qatar 2022 represents excitement for a select group of National Teams that have already qualified for it; however, for most others, it means frustration and sadness for not having been able to achieve their goal of participating. The fact is that losing the privilege of playing a World Cup on the field is painful, but when it happens for reasons outside the field of play, it is even more painful.

In the history of the FIFA World Cup, there have been teams that have seen their aspirations to be among those chosen to play in the most prestigious tournament in the world of soccer split in two, and not precisely because of their performance in this sport, but because of issues that go beyond the fact of kicking a ball.

Thus, the recent detonation of the case of the Ecuador National Team, which could be left out of the upcoming World Cup Qatar 2022 due to inconsistencies with the birth certificate of Byron Castillo, a player who was lineup in 8 matches of the Conmebol Qualifiers, brings to mind the history of several teams that did not come out well from the investigations conducted by FIFA and ended up not being able to play in the World Cup.

Ecuador's possible elimination from Qatar 2022

After the completion of the Conmebol Qualifiers, the standings indicated that the four South American National Teams that would play directly in the FIFA World Cup would be Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Ecuador.  With Peru vying for the last chance to enter the tournament via the Inter-Continental Playoffs, established teams such as Chile and Colombia were left out.

However, Colombian journalist Sebastian Bejarano took it upon himself to revive a controversy that had apparently been cleared up some time ago: the alleged birth of Byron Castillo, Ecuador's defender, in Colombia. If this is true, Castillo's alignment with La Tri would be an administrative offense as he does not legally have Ecuadorian nationality.

The Chilean soccer federation took matters into its own hands and filed a formal complaint with the FIFA Disciplinary Committee to request a sanction against Ecuador for improperly fielding Byron Castillo in eight Conmebol Qualifiers matches, two of them against La Roja. The latest news in this regard was FIFA's confirmation of the start of an investigation into the matter.

If it is determined that Byron Castillo is not legally Ecuadorian, the points obtained in the Qualifiers by Ecuador with Castillo on the field would be withdrawn and given to his opponents in those matches. Thus, La Tri would be eliminated from Qatar 2022 and its place would be taken by Chile, which would climb to fourth place in the standings thanks to the points that would be returned.

It would not be the first FIFA punishment to leave a national team out of the World Cup

In 117 years of existence of federated and organized soccer, governed by FIFA, there have been other cases in which various events that have occurred off the field have left several National Teams without the possibility of playing in a World Cup, due to the sanctions imposed on them. 

The following is a recount of the most notorious cases of teams whose dreams of playing in the FIFA World Cup were cut short due to sanctions they received, a painful road that the Ecuador National Team is in danger of going down due to the investigation initiated by FIFA regarding Byron Castillo's birth certificate.

Germany / Japan - Brazil 1950

In 92 years of history, the World Cup has only been suspended twice. This happened in the editions scheduled for 1942 and 1946, due to the fact that the Second World War was in progress during those years. FIFA decided to exclude Germany and Japan from any tournament organized by FIFA and this veto was not lifted until September 1950, so both National Teams missed the first World Cup organized by Brazil.

South Africa - Chile 1962 to Italy 1990

A very long veto that contributed to Bafana Bafana's debut in a World Cup until France 1998. It was not just one reason why South Africa was suspended by FIFA: the first cause was its Apartheid policy; then, the sanction was extended for the intention to field a team made up only of people from one ethnic group (either black or white) and finally the Soweto riots. All of these events were linked in subsequent years to leave South Africa without the possibility of attending 8 World Cups.

Mexico - Italy 1990

One of the darkest and most painful passages for Mexican soccer. The Concacaf qualifying tournament for the Under 20 World Cup in Saudi Arabia 1989 was being played when it was discovered that the Mexican Soccer Federation had registered players that were over the age limit. The FIFA sanction was not long in coming and banned El Tri from participating in the 1988 Seoul Olympics and the 1990 World Cup in Italy.

Libya - USA 1994 

Officially, the sanction that deprived Libya of competing in the Qualifiers for USA 1994 came from FIFA, but this body only replicated the determination made by the UN, which sanctioned the African country in 1988 for the attack on a flight of one of the most important airlines in the United States at that time.

Yugoslavia - USA 1994

Once again, a UN decision has influenced the sport. FIFA had no choice but to abide by the UN's decision that no Yugoslavian team would be allowed to participate in international tournaments due to a conflict with Serbian citizens in Bosnia. Thus, there was no place for them not only in USA 1994, but also in the 1992 European Cup, where they were replaced by Denmark, the eventual champion of that tournament.

Rusia - Qatar 2022

The most recent case in which FIFA decided to ban a National Team from its tournaments. In a joint decision with UEFA, Russia, its national team and its clubs, was prevented from participating in all types of tournaments due to the ongoing conflict with Ukraine that erupted earlier this year, so Qatar 2022 will miss the host country of last year's FIFA World Cup.