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Cablegate: President Morales Asks for Support in Overturning

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DE RUEHLP #1739 1762109
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 252109Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY LA PAZ
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4046
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 6875
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 4221
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 8104
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 5355
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 2589
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA 2741
RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID 3514
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 4684
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 5220
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 9818
RUMIAAA/USCINCSO MIAMI FL
RUEHUB/USINT HAVANA 0378
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL

UNCLAS LA PAZ 001739

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL ECON BL SCUL
SUBJECT: PRESIDENT MORALES ASKS FOR SUPPORT IN OVERTURNING
FIFA BAN

1. SUMMARY: Bolivian President Evo Morales hosted a breakfast
June 21 for Ambassadors/Charges from countries represented on
FIFA,s (the International Soccer Federation's) governing
board to seek support for overturning FIFA's May 27 ban on
international matches above 2,500 meters. Vice President
Alvaro Garcia Linera and Presidency Vice Minister Hector Arce
accompanied President Morales. Germany, France, the United
Kingdom, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Japan, Argentina,
Brazil, Paraguay and the United States participated. END
SUMMARY

2. President Morales kicked off the meeting by observing that
during a trip to Asuncion, Paraguay last week he and several
fellow Presidents gained the support of the South American
Soccer Association (Comnebol) for overturning a recent
decision by FIFA banning international match play at fields
located above 2,500 meters (about 8,000 feet) in altitude.
Making an analogy to a soccer game, Morales said that Bolivia
had scored in the first half of its match to overturn the
FIFA ban, now the GOB was working to score in the second half
and to win the match. Morales observed that each of the
countries invited to the breakfast had a seat on the FIFA
governing board. He said that the three South American
members on the board would seek to have the board suspend its
2,500 meter ban at upcoming June 26-27 governing board
meetings in Switzerland. The Bolivian President said that he
recognized that the governments seated around the table do
not participate directly on the FIFA governing board; rather
their national soccer federations do. But Morales asked that
the governments represented around the table contact their
soccer federations to ask that they support suspending the
ban pending a medical study on the effects of altitude at the
June 26-27 meetings.

3. The Brazilian, Argentine and Paraguayan Ambassadors
confirmed that their soccer federations would propose lifting
the ban at the upcoming FIFA governing board meeting. (Note:
At the Queen,s Birthday Celebration on June 21, the UK
Ambassador told Charge that the British Football Association
would support Bolivia,s request to overturn the altitude
ban, pending a medical study on the effects of altitude. End
Note.) Other Ambassadors noted that a similar ban had been
briefly imposed and overturned ten years ago. Why had the
ban been restored, they asked? President Morales responded
that he understood that the ban had been reimposed after Peru
had informed FIFA that it would hold elimination matches for
the next World Cup in Cuzco. Brazil and Argentina (in
Peru,s group) then pressed for the ban, he said.

4. The Vice President asserted that the issue here was really
the universality of sport. Sport should be played wherever
people live; at altitude, in the lowlands, in the heat and in
the cold. He said that it is wrong to ban match play in any
of these environments.

5. Post requests that Department contact the U.S. soccer
federation to convey President Morales request for support at
the June 26-27 meetings.


GOLDBERG

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