SANTA CRUZ, Bolivia, June 2, 2007 - At its congress in Zurich this week international football's governing body FIFA announced a ban on major football tournaments above 2,500 meters.
FIFA's executive decision has impacted greatly on many Latin American nations, notably Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru.
Bolivia's President, Evo Morales, vowed to lead a campaign against the ban.
Speaking after an emergency cabinet meeting, Mr Morales said the ruling amounted to discrimination.
"This is not only a ban on Bolivia, it's a ban on the universality of sports," he told reporters.
FIFA's decision has prompted the Bolivian Circle of Sports Journalists (CPBD) to make an official statement. In La Paz, Bolivia, games are played at 3,600 meters (11,811 ft)
Below is a full English text of the statement. For Spanish, please click here.
The Circle of Sports Journalists of Bolivia (CPBD) would like to express the position of its members regarding the FIFA Executive Committee decision, to veto the most popular game of the world in cities situated at an altitude higher than 2,500 meters above sea level.
1. The CPBD and its members reject this decision because it disregards our position as a Nation with its geographic, multicultural and multiethnic richness.
2. Football soccer is universal and is practiced in cities like Potosí, Oruro, Sucre, Cochabamba o La Paz, and is as ancestral as the sport itself. To prevent international matches is a violation of the human rights of all Bolivians.
3. To urge the members of the South American Football Confederation to pronounce a statement on the subject, for it only affects this Confederation. From this we will know who can be counted as the brothers of Bolivia and who will be regarded as its enemies.
4. To support initiatives from the National Government and from the Bolivian Football Federation to revoke this decision, a flagrant aggression to the Bolivian people.
5. To denounce to the press organisms which our Association is affiliated such as FEPEDA and AIPS so that they can be aware of this hostile attitude from FIFA and the countries behind this movement, which besides affecting Bolivia it also harms other brothers from the Continent.
6. The medical report which FIFA insists using to base its decision is not even conclusive on this matter and it even states that no athlete has been affected or diagnosed with a cerebral edema or any other health problem due to this height (2300 and 3300 meters over the sea level). It rather suggests that a more precise research should be carried out on this sensible topic. Thus in the absence of a final result, the leading football Nations took a harming decision for the emerging Andean football Nations.
7. The CPDB and all its members will be following closely all the events and their development. We will await that the 14 of June in the city of Asunción where the South American Football Confederation has its headquarters, justice will be made and that equity and no-discrimination will prevail which are cornerstones in FIFA’s statutes.
Santa Cruz, May, 29 2007
BOARD OF DIRECTORS