Lionel Messi’s ability to score a spectacular long-range goal, weave through mazes of defenders or curl a perfect cross-field pass to get a teammate through the goal line leaves audiences awestruck.
The little Argentine, who is considered by many to have been the greatest football player of all time, is an absolute master at taking peoples’ breath away.
What about Messi’s breath being taken away, causing him to vomit on the pitch?
Let’s take a look back at eight years.
Estadio Hernando Siles hosts the Bolivian National Team’s home stadium. It is located in La Paz’s capital.
The stadium is now a serious weapon in Bolivia’s arsenal and a source for international controversy.
Why? It is located in the mountains of the north-eastern Andes at 3,637 metres above the sea level. This makes it one the most impressive sports stadiums in the entire world.
Because the air is so thin at that altitude, athletes require a week to adjust. As a result, Bolivians often have a significant advantage over foreign competitors.
A trip to the Estadio Hernando Siles is now a nightmare for South American teams, especially considering how Bolivia has a strong home record, which Argentina found out in 2013 during a World Cup qualifier.
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It only took 45 minutes for the high altitude impact to reach the visitors. Messi laughed up at the pitch as the halftime whistle blew. Angel Di Maria was also in need of an oxygen mask.
The match ended 1-1. The Argentinians were just thankful that it was over.
“It is terrible to play here at altitude, so a draw is a good result for us. Every time you make an effort or play at high pace, you need time to recover,” Messi said.
“Some of the players had a headache and others felt a bit dizzy.”
Brazil was the first to complain about the venue’s inadequacy after their 1993 defeat to Bolivia by 2-0. This was, surprisingly enough, Brazil’s first ever loss in a World Cup qualifier.
Argentina won 6-1 in the stadium in 2009, a stunning result that was unforgiving. It was their worst loss in 60 years. Manager Diego Maradona did not blame the altitude.
He insisted instead that his team of superstars, including Messi and Carlos Tevez, Javier Mascherano, Javier Zanetti, Javier Zanetti and Javier Zanetti, were simply outclassed. They lost 11 of the 18 qualifying games.
FIFA banned international matches at more than 2500 metres above the sea level two years ago.
Bolivian President Evo Morales was furious at the ruling and accused FIFA of discrimination. He even branded the ban “football apartheid”.
“This is not only a ban on Bolivia, but it is also a ban on the universality of sports,”During an emergency cabinet meeting at that time, he said.
Morales pledged to lead a campaign to stop the ruling. Maradona joined Morales later in taking part in an hour-long match in the stadium to show that young professional athletes could also play there if they wanted.
One year later, the ban was lifted.