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Last Updated: Friday, 6 July 2007, 21:34 GMT 22:34 UK
Fifa relents on altitude ruling
South American countries have campaigned against Fifa's altitude ban
Conmebol's campaign has been rewarded
Fifa has granted Bolivia permission to play international matches at high altitude in the capital La Paz.

World football's governing body raised its altitude limit from 2,500 metres to 3,000m after pressure from the South American federation (Conmebol).

That denied Boliva the chance to play in La Paz which is situated at 3,600m, but Fifa president Sepp Blatter has decided to make an "exception".

Conmebol countries still have to ratify Fifa's recommendation.

Fifa initially imposed a ban on World Cup qualifying matches being played above 2,500m in May.

That would have disqualified Colombia from playing in Bogota, and ruled out Quito as a venue for Ecuador.

However, following an appeal the limit was raised to 3,000m, although that still ruled out La Paz and Cuzco, where Peru regularly stage international matches.

Bolivian President Evo Morales took the issue up with Blatter and looks to have forced Fifa to back down.

Blatter had originally stated the change was in order to protect players and Fifa imposed the altitude ban on medical grounds, adding high altitude provided an unfair home advantage.

Fifa's executive committee re-examined its controversial ban amid differing medical opinions on the effects of playing at altitude.

Andean doctors on Conmebol's medical panel insisted that it causes "no major problems" provided there has been a period of acclimatisation.

Other medical experts claimed playing at elevation causes headaches, nausea, fatigue and insomnia.

Conmebol's Andean members claimed matches played in extreme heat and humidity - such as in Brazil - are medically dangerous, but Fifa has taken no action to ban them.

Conmebol also wants Fifa to study other factors that could cause medical problems, such as cold and snow.

Conmebol members presented a united front to Fifa, with South American giants Brazil and Argentina backing the protest despite their previous misgivings.

Both Brazil and Argentina have complained in the past about the disadvantages of playing at altitude.



SEE ALSO
S America urges Fifa to lift ban
15 Jun 07 |  Americas
Bolivian leader kicks off protest
31 May 07 |  Americas
Fifa bans high-altitude football
28 May 07 |  Americas
Peru shock Uruguay in Copa opener
27 Jun 07 |  Internationals


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