Page last updated at 17:09 GMT, Tuesday, 27 May 2008 18:09 UK

Fifa suspends altitude match ban

Bolivian President Evo Morales plays football at 6,000m (19,700 ft) in protest at Fifa high-altitude match ban (13 June 2007)
Bolivian President Evo Morales has campaigned hard against the ban

Football's governing body, Fifa, has suspended restrictions on international matches being played at high altitude.

"Let us re-open the discussion," said Fifa president Sepp Blatter after a meeting of the organisation's executive committee in Australia.

Bolivia, with the world's highest international venue, had complained it was being discriminated against.

The restrictions will be suspended while a panel examines the issue of playing football in extreme conditions.

The Fifa study will look into playing in high temperatures and humidity as well as at altitude.

Fifa imposed a limit for international matches of 2,750m (9,022 ft) altitude in December.


Under the ruling, players could only take part in matches above this altitude if they had had one week to acclimatise, rising to 15 days for games above 3,000m (9,843ft).

Bolivia had criticised the Fifa ban

Clubs have to release their players for internationals only five days ahead of internationals.

The regulations had caused an outcry among South American countries, in particular Bolivia, where the Hernando Siles stadium in La Paz is 3,577m (11,740ft) above sea level, and Ecuador.

Nine countries from the South American Football Confederation (Conmebol) signed a declaration of support for Bolivia last month.

Announcing the change, Mr Blatter said Fifa had taken into account lobbying from South America.

"The Fifa Medical Committee have recommended that teams must acclimatise properly if they play at high altitude," he said.

"The committee wants to examine this, and other extreme playing conditions such as heat, pollution or humidity."

Qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup can now go ahead at high altitude venues while Fifa works out permanent changes to the rules on match conditions.

The restrictions were originally imposed on medical grounds and because high altitude is perceived as giving the home team an unfair advantage.

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