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FIFA's altitude ruling flames soccer rivalries

sports Updated: May 30, 2007 14:05 IST
AP
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Fans joined soccer officials from Andean nations in blaming perennial South American soccer powers Argentina and Brazil for instigating FIFA's ban on games in high-altitude cities, fanning the flames of traditional sports rivalries across the continent.

Guido Loyaza, former head of the Bolivian soccer federation, told Bolivia's 'La Razon' newspaper that "you don't have to look across the ocean" to find the "enemy" responsible for the ruling.

FIFA on Sunday decided to prohibit international matches above 2,500 metres, citing health and safety concerns but angering Bolivians because it means a ban on major matches in their most important cities.

Many Bolivians are accusing Brazil and Argentina, whose teams have gasped and occasionally flopped at the 3,600-metre altitude of La Paz and in other high-altitude Bolivian cities.

Soccer officials in the two lowland nations, meanwhile, were only too happy to take the credit. Kleber Leite, vice president of the Brazilian club Flamengo - which filed a formal complaint with FIFA after a February match with Bolivia's Real Potosi that was played in freezing rain at 4,000 metres - crowed that the ruling was "a victory for humankind.

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