Bolivia looks to join Argentina-Uruguay-Paraguay World Cup bid

AFP , Tuesday 18 Dec 2018

Barcelona pair Luis Suarez of Uruguay (left) and Argentina's Lionel Messi wear shirts backing the joint Argentina-Uruguay-Paraguay bid to host the 2030 World Cup AFP

Bolivia's football-mad President Evo Morales has offered his Argentine, Uruguayan and Paraguayan counterparts help in their joint bid to host the 2030 World Cup.

Morales made the offer to the equally passionate presidents, Mauricio Macri of Argentina, Uruguay's Tabare Vazquez and Paraguayan Mario Abdo Benitez during a regional Mercosur heads of state meeting in the Uruguayan capital Montevideo.

He proposed "two or three departments as sub-seats" for the centenary World Cup, coming 100 years since the very first edition in Uruguay, won by the hosts.

Morales, 59, wants "to guarantee that in 2030 there is another World Cup in South America."

The last in the continent was held in Brazil in 2014. The 2022 edition will be in Qatar while the US, Canada and Mexico will organize the 2026 edition.

Morales's love of football is well documented as he signed a professional contract at the age of 54 with a local club, although the president of Sport Boys Warnes did admit the move was a publicity stunt.

A few years ago, he also played in a football match at the top of a mountain to prove that the game could be played at altitude.

He was instrumental, 10 years ago, in convincing FIFA to allow Bolivia to keep playing home games in La Paz at more than 3,600 meters (almost 12,000 feet) above sea level, after complaints from breathless opponents.

If his offer is accepted, Bolivia's Hernando Siles Reyes home ground in La Paz, which has a capacity just over FIFA's 40,000 minimum requirement for a World Cup venue, could be included in the joint South American bid.

Although known to still play football, Morales has never been president of a club, unlike the leaders of the joint bid nations.

Macri was once the head of Boca Juniors, Vazquez was in charge at Club Atletico Progreso while Horacio Cartes led Libertad de Asuncion.

The South American bid faces competition from Morocco and potentially several other joint bids, including one from Britain and Ireland and another by an eastern European confederation of Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania.

Morales is the first ever indigenous president of Bolivia and has vowed to stand for re-election next year for a potential fourth term, even though the impoverished country's constitution limits presidents to two consecutive mandates.

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