FIFA excludes La Paz from altitude ban - report

June 29, 2007

LA PAZ, June 28 (Reuters) - FIFA will allow international soccer games to be played in the Bolivian capital of La Paz even though it lies above 9,800 feet (3,000 metres), the president of the country's soccer federation told local radio on Thursday.

Soccer chief Carlos Chavez said he had received a statement from world soccer's governing body that said the stadium in La Paz would be eligible.

'The winner is our country, the winner is La Paz. La Paz is going to carry on being the venue for World Cup qualifiers,' Chavez told radio Panamericana from the Venezuelan city of San Cristobal, where Bolivia are taking part in the Copa America.

'The presence of our president in Zurich was a deciding factor,' he added.

Bolivian President Evo Morales visited FIFA headquarters in Zurich on Thursday and won assurances from FIFA president Sepp Blatter that he would reconsider the altitude ban, which had excluded La Paz because it lies at some 11,800 feet (3,600 metres) above sea level.

Blatter's pledge to reconsider La Paz's position came less than 24 hours after he announced FIFA would raise its controversial altitude limit from 2,500 metres (8,200 feet) above sea level to 3,000 metres.

FIFA introduced its original ban in May following concerns expressed by its medical committee over the health of visiting players and over possible unfair advantages for the home side.