- Title: BOLIVIA: SOCCER/FOOTBALL - Bolivia celebrates exercise, lifting of FIFA ban
- Date: 30th May 2008
- Summary: VARIOUS OF SOLDIERS JOGGING BOLIVIAN FLAG FLYING
- Embargoed: 14th June 2008 13:00
- Topics: Sports
- Reuters ID: LVA940725S038B7MX0V1H29DZYCT
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- Story Text: Bolivians celebrated the virtues of physical exercise and the lifting of a FIFA ban on soccer at high altitude on Wednesday (May 28) in La Paz as part of national exercise day.
Dressed in a tracksuit, President Evo Morales sang the national anthem before getting on an exercise bicycle and later jogging through the streets of La Paz.
The thin mountain air in La Paz often causes dizziness and stomach problems for visitors, but Morales, a soccer player and fan himself, has maintained the bracing air does not cause health problems and is no worse than playing in hot, humid lowlands.
FIFA had effectively prohibited Bolivian capital La Paz from staging World Cup qualifiers when they imposed a limit of 2,750 metres above sea level in December, but a reprieve was given on Tuesday when FIFA suspended its ban on internationals played at high altitude.
Now a complete study must be carried out, and Morales said the government would help.
"(We are supporting) the Bolivian Soccer Federation in the scientific investigation of soccer not just at high elevations, but also in the plains, and not just in warm places, but also in cold places. The investigation should be serious and responsible. The government will be working with the federation to implement an international study so they never again look for reasons to ban soccer at high elevations," he said.
On Wednesday Morales took part in a game of soccer with cabinet members and soldiers at La Paz Hernando Silas Stadium, which sits at over 3600 meters.
The Bolivian leader was relentless in protesting against the FIFA ban, staging soccer matches on the side of volcanoes and traveling to FIFA headquarters to berate President Sepp Blatter.
Blatter said FIFA had taken into account lobbying from South America.
Qualifying games for the 2010 World Cup can now go ahead at high-altitude venues while FIFA considers changes to laws for match conditions at international and domestic club level.
Last month nine federations from the South American Football Confederation, notably minus Brazil, signed a declaration of support for Bolivia.
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