Tuesday, May 29, 2007

High-level soccer row

Football's governing body, Fifa, has banned international matches from being played at more than 2,500m (8,200ft) above sea level. Fifa said the decision was made because of concerns over players' health and possible distortion of competition.

The ruling was greeted with dismay in Latin America, notably in Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, where games in La Paz are played at 3,600m (11,811ft). Bolivia's President, Evo Morales, vowed to lead a campaign against the ban.

Speaking after an emergency cabinet meeting, Mr Morales said the ruling amounted to discrimination.

"This is not only a ban on Bolivia, it's a ban on the universality of sports," he told reporters. Mr Morales also said he would send a high-level delegation to Fifa's headquarters in Zurich and called on other countries to join his campaign.
"We cannot allow discrimination in soccer, we cannot allow... exclusion in the world of sports," he added.

Many of Bolivia's major cities, including Sucre and Potosi, are at high altitude.

Local commentators in Peru, which was hoping to stage upcoming World Cup qualifiers in Cuzco at 3,400m (11,154ft), suggested Fifa made the decision after pressure from South America's two major football powers, Brazil and Argentina.

Both nations have struggled in recent years while playing at altitude, where the thin air hands an advantage to those acclimatised to the conditions. Playing sport in conditions of high altitude places heavy demands on the body, forcing the heart to work harder.


Debbie said...

I'm all for taking out Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. That puts the USA in better position. And we know we need all the help we can get.

dom said...

Your team did well to get there last time , and you were soooooo unlucky against Italy.
( I should say we, coz next world cup I'll be a dual citizen :))