Peru U20 player accused of being Ecuadorean
LIMA, Peru - A player in the South American under-20 championship is being investigated for falsifying his identity and playing for the wrong country — and for reportedly being far over the age limit.
The Ecuadorean Football Association told The Associated Press that the Peru player identified as Max Barrios is a 25-year-old Ecuadorean named Juan Espinoza
"The latest information we have is that Barrios is returning to Lima to explain his situation to the Peruvian Football Federation," South American football governing body CONMEBOL spokesman Nestor Benitez said on Wednesday.
Ecuadorean officials said Barrios was born in 1987 in Machala, Ecuador.
His father, Angel Barrios, acknowledged his son was born in Ecuador, but said he was 17 and not 25.
"My son hasn't done anything bad, he simply has dual nationality and decided to play for Peru," Angel Barrios said in an interview with the sports newspaper Depot. "I have all the papers in order."
Barrios said he has separated from the mother of his child, an Ecuadorean. He said he brought his son to Peru at age 6 and registered his son as a Peruvian.
Official documents in Peru show a person identified as Max Barrios Prado was born in 1995 in northern Peru.
Jaime Villavicenio, president of the Ecuadorean club Liga de Loja, told AP on Wednesday that the player in the dispute played for the club in 2010.
"He was 22 when he played with us," Villavicenio said. "In his registration it said he was born in 1987, therefore he is 25."
Asked if he was certain, Villavicenio replied: "Definitely, this is the player that was with us."
Benitez said the confusing case would be handled by CONMEBOL's disciplinary court, but he did not suggest the results of the games in which Barrios played would be annulled.
The tournament in Argentina ends on Feb. 3 with four teams advancing to the Under-20 World Cup this year in Turkey. South American powers Brazil and Argentina have been eliminated. Peru and Ecuador are still in contention.