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Bolivia lose appeal over ineligible player, giving boost to Chile

Nelson Cabrera Bolivia
Bolivia's punishment for fielding Nelson Cabrera has been confirmed.

LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- Bolivia have lost their appeal against forfeiting two World Cup qualifying games for fielding an ineligible player, a ruling that hurts Argentina's chances of qualifying.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport said FIFA was right to hand 3-0 defeats to Bolivia in games played last September against Chile and Peru.

FIFA had ruled that Bolivia were wrong to field Paraguay-born defender Nelson Cabrera as a late substitute in both disputed games.

Cabrera fulfilled Bolivian requirements for nationalisation, having lived in the country for three years. FIFA, though, requires a five-year period of residence.

Because Chile and Bolivia originally drew 0-0, the CAS verdict confirms the FIFA ruling that Chile are awarded an extra two points.

Chile retain their hold on the fourth automatic qualifying place in the South American group with four rounds left. Argentina trail Chile by one point in fifth place -- the intercontinental playoff spot against New Zealand or Solomon Islands.

Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli said he had no choice but to accept the ruling.

"The truth is that I am just coming from training [and finding this out].This is something that we knew was out of our control. We are aware of the reality and we know that we need to face it in the best possible way and change it. We are focused on Uruguay to change our situation. We are living with the reality that we could be out of Russia qualifying," he said.

Reports in Argentina last month had said the Albiceleste had expected Bolivia to win their appeal, but that has not been the case.

Bolivia had defeated Peru 2-0, and that result has also been reversed. Peru are seventh in the table, four points back of Argentina.

The Bolivian football federation did not dispute in court that Cabrera failed to meet FIFA's eligibility rules, CAS said in a statement.

However, Bolivia questioned if FIFA had the right to launch its own investigation one month after the games were played. At World Cup tournaments, protests must be lodged within one hour of the final whistle of any game.

"The [CAS] panel dismissed such arguments, finding that FIFA had the right to initiate ... disciplinary proceedings against Bolivia under the FIFA Disciplinary Code within a time limit of two years,'' the court said.

South American qualifying resumes on Thursday when Chile host Paraguay and Argentina play at Uruguay. Five days later, Chile play Bolivia and Argentina host Venezuela.

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