Conmebol to press for La Paz's exemption
ASUNCION, Paraguay -- Nine nations from the South America's soccer confederation will urge FIFA's executive body to exempt the Bolivian mountain city of La Paz from its ban on international matches played at high altitude. FIFA's executive leadership is to meet May 27 in Sydney, Australia, for a regular session at which Conmebol president Nicolas Leoz is expected to lead appeal efforts. Conmebol spokesman Nestor Benitez said Leoz would be joined by FIFA member Julio Grondona, head of the Argentine regulatory body AFA, in making the request. Benitez said the delegation will give FIFA president Joseph Blatter a written plea signed by nine South American countries, minus Brazil, in requesting the restoration of the La Paz stadium for international matches. The move would allow La Paz to be a host for future qualifying matches for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. A FIFA resolution last year restricted international matches above 9,020 feet to only those games in which visiting players had enough time to acclimate to a less oxygen-rich atmosphere. La Paz, at 11,800 feet, and Quito, Ecuador, at 9,285 feet, were the chief cities affected by the ban. Benitez did not say whether a plea was also being made on behalf of the Ecuadorean venue.