- Title: BOLIVIA: SOCCER/FOOTBALL - Soccer fans hold vigil to protest against FIFA ban
- Date: 14th June 2007
- Summary: VARIOUS OF THE PUBLIC APPLAUDING
- Embargoed: 29th June 2007 13:00
- Topics: Sports
- Reuters ID: LVA8DDKB43F9S5XTDFN9CAFKHC11
- Story Text: Thousands of Bolivian soccer fans held a vigil in La Paz on Wednesday (June 13, 2007) night to protest against FIFA's decision to ban high-altitude matches. Protesters gathered around the Hernan Siles stadium in La Paz until midnight, to show their disapproval of a ban that would prevent their team from hosting international matches.
Bolivians have shown widespread discontent with the ban. Carlos Borja, a former Bolivian soccer player and the vice minister of sports, helped to organize the vigil.
"The vigil is held by the soccer universe, because we think that it is a fundamental right of Bolivians. It is being held practically at a national level in the cities of Cochabamba, Potosi, Sucre and Oruro at the national level. I think this is an opportunity for the citizens to express their firm and vehement opposition to this cunning decision by FIFA," he said.
Bolivian President Evo Morales has appeared in several publicity events in recent weeks to show his opposition to the ban, including playing in a soccer game on Bolivia's highest mountain.
Luis Bravo, a La Paz soccer fan, joined the vigil, saying that everyone should have the to play in their hometown.
"Because we are all here protesting against the altitude veto. Because everyone has the right to play. One plays where they are born. May the altitude survive!" he said.
Vigils similar to the one held in La Paz were also staged in five other major Bolivian cities in the days before South American Soccer Confederation's executive committee will convene in Asuncion, Paraguay. The committee is expected to discuss Andean countries' opposition to the FIFA ban.
FIFA recently decided to ban international matches at altitudes over 8,200 feet (2,500 metres, which has triggered outrage in soccer-loving Andean nations Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia. FIFA based its decision on concerns that some players experience health problems when they play at high altitudes.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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