The fight to have Paolo Guerrero at the 2018 World Cup has been picking up pace, but no official breakthrough has been made. The Peruvian captain, who – as it stands – will miss the tournament in Russia due to a ban, has received further support in his case.
The 34-year-old tested positive for cocaine, a prohibited substance, from a tea he drank after a World Cup qualifier in October against Argentina and was thus hit with a 12-month suspension. FIFA's appeal committee halved his punishment, meaning he would have been back in time for the World Cup, but an appeal by the anti-doping agency to CAS resulted in his ban being increased to 14 months.
As a result, he will not be eligible to captain the South American side in their first World Cup in 36 years. The player then confirmed that he is headed with his lawyer and the head of his country's football federation to meet with FIFA's president Gianni Infantino to overturn his suspension.
And he is not alone in the fight. A document, released by FIFPro, pleas for "compassion" and an "equitable and rightful solution" to permit the striker to travel to Russia. That document has been signed by three World Cup captains – Australia's Mile Jedinak, Denmark's Simon Kjaer, and France's Hugo Lloris, who will face La Blanquirroja in Group C.
"In our view it would be plainly wrong to exclude him from what should be a pinnacle of his career," the letter read. The three skippers came to the Peruvian's defense, arguing that his punishment is unfair given that he did not knowingly ingest cocain and did not gain any competitive advantage from it.
Fans in Lima participated in a march in support of Paolo Guerrero, culminating at Estadio Nacional pic.twitter.com/1K8KWzfOzq— The Peruvian Waltz (@PeruWaltz) May 20, 2018
Guerrero, who insists the positive testing was due to coca residue in a cup of tea he used to calm his stomach, also has the backing of his nation. Rallies have been held on the streets of Peru, with thousands of fans taking to Estadio Nacional to demand his pardon. Only time will tell if football's world governing body will listen to their cries.