Not much is usually written about international sports law, however, last months have been immensely rich in controversial cases from the many diffrent sports. It is also international football that has witnessed several troublesome developments in past weeks. Many of these developments concern recent decisions by regional and international football bodies. This post examines recent decision delivered by FIFA concerning prohibition of international footbal matches at high altitude. Let us explain firstly what FIFA is? The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) is an association governed by Swiss law founded in 1904 and based in Zurich. It has 208 member football associations and its goal, enshrined in its Statutes, is the constant improvement of football. It is composed of a Congress,Executive Committee, General Secretariat and committees.
Some days ago FIFA delivered a decision prohibiting on international football matches being played at venues above altitudes of 2,500 meters claiming that it is dangerous for footballers unaccustomed to the shortage of oxygen. The ban means
Newly re-elected FIFA president, Sepp Blatter, said:
"I know there will be complaints about this, especially from
"The Executive Committee have listened to a proposal from the medical committee and have decided to act because to play at above that altitude is not healthy or fair.«
It appears that such decision does not have much legitimacy and credibly regardless of any health consideration. Football matches have been played at high altitudes for a century without major conundrums. This decision reads as a very Euro-centric policy and it could be qualified as a potential form of indirect discrimination. Does this prohibition imply that FIFA could ban matches in excessive heat or cold? Some South-American representative said »Let’s not play in Africa, where it is very hot and we would have to put air conditioning in the stadiums, or in Norway because it’s too cold.” Another question is why ban was set on 2,500 meters and not on 1,500 or 2,000 meters.
One of reasons for popularity and attractiveness of football game and is that it is probably the most accessible sport of them all and it is played all over the world. Setting artificial rules does not lead anywhere. It would be interesting to examine and assess the quality medical advice on which this decision was adopted and whether playing on the high altitude can indeed lead to the unfair advantage. Practicing sports at high-altitude can be very often very beneficial for man sportsmen and sportswomen. It appears that this decision has been adopted in very hasty manner and without any consultation from affected countries. It would compelling to observe how would Swiss nation would react if the Wengen downhill race would be prohibited just because it would be to dangerous to ski from so high up in the