Buenos Aires Times

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Bolivia looks to join Argentina-Uruguay-Paraguay joint World Cup 2030 bid

Bolivian president, 59, says he wants to 'to guarantee that there is another World Cup in South America.'

Wednesday 19 December, 2018
The official family of the 53rd Mercosur summit (left to right): Mario Abdo Benítez (President of Paraguay), Mauricio Macri (President of Argentina), Tabaré Vázquez (President of Uruguay), Michel Temer (President of Brazil), Evo Morales (President of Bolivia).
The official family of the 53rd Mercosur summit (left to right): Mario Abdo Benítez (President of Paraguay), Mauricio Macri (President of Argentina), Tabaré Vázquez (President of Uruguay), Michel Temer (President of Brazil), Evo Morales (President of Bolivia). Foto:NA

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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 presidents Mauricio Macri, Uruguay's Tabaré Vázquez and Paraguayan Mario Abdo Benítez during the regional Mercosur heads of state meeting in the Uruguayan capital Montevideo this week.

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 United States, Canada and Mexico will organise the 2026 edition.

Morales' 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 later 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.

Presidential connections

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, Vázquez was in charge at Club Atletico Progreso while Horacio Cartesm, who originally helped set up the Paraguayan part of the bid, led Libertad de Asunción.

However, 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.

In addition to that, Argentina's standing in the football world – and especially its attempts to host games – have been hit dramatically by the violence that overshadowed the two-legged Copa Libertadores final between River Plate and Boca Juniors.

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.

- TIMES/AFP

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