May 28, 2007

No more football at high altitude: following a ban on playing matches at more than 2,500m above sea level. FIFA cite health and safety considerations. The impact of the ruling will be felt most in South America. Brazilian and Argentine sides have suffered in cup matches in Andean nations like Bolivia, and some attributed Ecuador's success in the last World Cup qualifying campaign to Quito's 2,800m altitude. Not necessarily sour grapes, as Peru have considered shifting their home matches for a similar benefit.

posted by Abiezer to soccer at 03:54 AM - 13 comments

I have to say I'm inclined to believe Peru's objections, as my response to almost any Sepp Blatter initiative is to imagine him carving up a deal to the benefit of vested interest lobbies, rather than acting out of concern for player's welfare.

posted by Abiezer at 03:57 AM on May 28

Playing at high altitude gives an advantage to the home team. And, in many cases, there is no chance of the away team being able to spend enough time at altitude in order to adjust. So while I'm not a Blatter fan I'd have to say that this sounds pretty fair to me.

posted by Fence at 05:01 AM on May 28

The US team could still use Mile High, and perhaps they should.

posted by oxocerite at 12:42 PM on May 28

The US team could still use Mile High, and perhaps they should. i don't think it's that much of an advantage since our own players aren't conditioned to play there. i'm sure Mexico would love it though.

posted by goddam at 01:45 PM on May 28

Interesting decision. I know when I moved about 11 years ago, I basically went a mile into the air. (I moved from sea level to a mile above sea level). I remember feeling out of breath for a few weeks until I adjusted, so I dread to think what it must be like to have to go play football under those conditions.

posted by Drood at 01:55 PM on May 28

FIFA is almost as big a joke as the NCAA....It is planned to be a sporting game but alas like almost the nationalist sticks its ugly head in and everyone points and everyone when something happens that rocks the boat. Having the games at high altitudes is sometimes a big advantage for the teams that train there but the teams from these high places coming down to sea level have a big advantage because at sea level there is more O2. 6 to 1 half a dozen to another.........

posted by The Old Man at 02:52 PM on May 28

Like drood, I too moved from sea level to about 6,500 feet above. It takes about three weeks to acclimate. One becomes out of breath just walking downhill. When you are talking about the physical exertion of a soccer game it becomes downright dangerous. That said, the US national team should start training at altitude. On a side note, when I do return to sea level for a visit home, I can drink everyone under the table.

posted by GoBirds at 01:38 AM on May 29

Hmm. I guess Carribean teams should demand that they not be asked to play in European winters, too.

posted by rodgerd at 04:20 AM on May 29

When do Caribbean teams ever have to play in European winters, except for friendlies? Anyway, given that it's arguably easier to run around in cold weather one would think the objections should be the other way round, if at all.

posted by squealy at 05:08 AM on May 29

but the teams from these high places coming down to sea level have a big advantage because at sea level there is more O2. 6 to 1 half a dozen to another.
Well, yes, it would be to their advantage, but it isn't a health risk to the opposing team to play at high altitude? So if it is the health argument rather than unfair conditions that is the reason then it makes more sense.

posted by Fence at 08:51 AM on May 29

Anyway, given that it's arguably easier to run around in cold weather Ever seen how miserable people from the tropics look playing sport in winter in a British climate?

posted by rodgerd at 05:34 AM on May 30

An Ecuadorian commentator interviewed by the BBC noted that if you're really worried about health and safety, then you don't ban games at altitude: you ban games in high humidity. This is the result of some heavy lobbying by the Brazilian and Argentine federations, and everybody knows it. It's important for two reasons: not only does it remove the home advantage of playing at altitude, but it also locks out the Andean nations from a future World Cup bid, should they ever want to challenge the big three.

posted by etagloh at 11:57 PM on May 30

FIFA is almost as big a joke as the NCAA....It is planned to be a sporting game but alas like almost the nationalist sticks its ugly head in and everyone points and everyone when something happens that rocks the boat. There must be a coherent thought in there, somewhere, struggling to get out! Anyway back to the topic.... Since this doesn't exclude Mexico playing its home games in Azteca, I don't care. They'll have that advantage over the USA, at least, for the foreseeable future. We'll continue to beat Mexico outside of Azteca though.

posted by dave2007 at 10:10 PM on May 31

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