Altitude ban: Morales to fight on

Bolivian president Evo Morales has said he will continue his struggle against FIFA's ban of playing matches at high altitudes.

updated: July 17, 2007 14:50 IST
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La Paz, Bolivia:

President Evo Morales said on Sunday that Bolivia has "won the battle, but not the war" following the announcement that the country's Andean capital had been exempted from a ban that prohibited soccer matches above 3,000 meters.

The waiver granted by FIFA and subsequently approved by CONMEBOL has been warmly received in Bolivia, where Morales recently played soccer atop icy Andean peak to protest the ban.

But Morales said on Sunday that FIFA Vice President Julio Grondona and CONMEBOL President Nicolas Leoz had informed Bolivian officials that La Paz would only be allowed to host qualifying matches for the 2010 World Cup, and would have to build a new stadium below 2,800 meters for future international games.

"I feel that we have won the battle but not the war," Morales said before playing a match against a team including the mayor of La Paz at the inauguration of a new sports complex in the capital. "This struggle will continue until the sport can be played anywhere in the world."

La Paz's Hernando Siles Stadium sits 3,600 meters above sea level.

In May, FIFA had announced a ban on international matches played at more than 2,500 meters above sea level, a decision that ruled out several Andean cities.