High altitude football stadium so high above sea level Lionel Messi was sick on the pitch

Whether scoring an outrageous long-range effort, weaving through a labyrinth of defenders or curling a perfect cross pass to put a teammate on goal, barely a game goes on where Lionel Messi doesn’t leave an audience in awe.

Considered by many to be the greatest player to ever play football, the little Argentine is an absolute master at taking your breath away.

But what about the moment Messi’s breath was cut off – causing him to vomit on the pitch?

Let’s go back eight years, will you?

Estadio Hernando Siles is the stadium of the Bolivian national team, located in the national capital, La Paz.

Estadio Hernando Siles in La Paz, Bolivia. One of the highest stadiums in the world

The stadium has become a very serious weapon in the Bolivian arsenal, as well as a source of international controversy.

The reason? It sits amidst the mountains of the northeastern Andes, some 3,637 meters above sea level, making it one of the tallest stadiums in the world.

At this type of altitude, athletes need a week or two to acclimatize as the air is so scarce and as a result Bolivians usually gain a significant physical advantage against foreign opponents.

For this reason, a trip to the Estadio Hernando Siles has become formidable for the South American teams, especially as Bolivia set a formidable home record there, as Argentina discovered to their costs in 2013 in a World Cup qualifier.

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Lionel Messi in action for Argentina at Copa America
Lionel Messi threw up on the pitch at half-time after suffering from the altitude

It only took 45 minutes for the high altitude to impact the visitors, with Messi throwing himself onto the pitch as the halftime whistle sounded and his teammate Angel Di Maria needed a mask oxygen.

After the game, which ended 1-1, the Argentines were just grateful that it was over.

“It’s terrible to play here at altitude, so a draw is a good result for us. Anytime you put in an effort or play at a high pace you need time to recover,” Messi said.

“Some players had a headache and others were dizzy.”

Brazil were the first to complain about the inadequacy of the venue after losing 2-0 to Bolivia in 1993, which was remarkably the country’s first loss in a World Cup qualifier.

In 2009, another stunning result saw Argentina fall 6-1 in the ruthless stadium – their worst loss in 60 years – although manager Diego Maradona refused to blame the altitude.

Lionel Messi Diego Maradona
Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona were beaten 6-1 by Bolivia in the stadium in 2009

Instead, he insisted that his team of superstars, which included Messi, Carlos Tevez, Javier Mascherano and Javier Zanetti, were simply outclassed by the Bolivians, who lost 11 out of 18 games in the campaign. qualification.

Two years earlier, FIFA had banned international matches played at an altitude of more than 2,500 meters.

The decision sparked outrage in Bolivia, and the country’s president, Evo Morales, accused FIFA of discrimination and even called the ban “football apartheid”.

“This is not only a ban on Bolivia, but it is also a ban on the universality of sport,” he said in an emergency cabinet meeting at the time.

Morales vowed to campaign against the decision, and was later joined by Maradona who took part in an hour-long match in the stadium to show the world that if a 47-year-old could play there, young professional athletes could too. .

A year later, the ban was lifted.

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