LA PAZ, May 29 (Reuters) - Bolivian President Evo Morales, leading opposition to a FIFA ban on high-altitude games, said on Tuesday his country would host a protest meeting uniting delegates from 20 Latin American cities on June 6.
The decision by world soccer's governing body to set a limit of 2,500 metres (8,200 feet) above sea level is a blow for Andean countries, including Bolivia, which has the benefit of playing World Cup qualifiers at 3,600 metres in La Paz.
'We want to stop this injustice being committed because he who wins at high altitude, stands tall ... there shouldn't be any fear about playing sport at altitude,' Morales, a keen soccer fan, said as he announced the meeting.
Morales, who has branded the FIFA measure discrimination, called the gathering in La Paz after discussing the ban with representatives of five Bolivian cities affected by it.
FIFA announced the new measure on Sunday, saying high altitude play was a health hazard and distorted fair competition, but the rule sparked an outcry in the Andean nations of Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia and Peru.
Ecuadorean soccer officials have played down the risks of playing at altitude, while the doctor for Peru's national squad said on Tuesday that if FIFA wanted to be fair it should also rule out hot and humid grounds in Argentina and Brazil.
'If FIFA is banning high-altitude venues, it should do the same with stadiums in cities that have high temperatures like Sao Paulo and humidity like Buenos Aires, which also harm players' health,' Javier Arce told Reuters.
Peruvian soccer chiefs accused Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay of being behind the ban.
In Bolivia, local media speculated that FIFA had acted due to lobbying by Brazilian soccer chiefs and particularly the club Flamengo, which complained about the conditions after scraping a draw at Real Potosi in a Libertadores Cup game in February.
After the game, during which their players repeatedly went to the touchline to be given oxygen, Flamengo said they would refuse to play again at high altitude and described the conditions in Potosi as unsporting and inhumane.
Radio stations Fides and Erbol quoted Flamengo vice president Kleber Leite as thanking the president of Brazil's soccer federation for supporting the ban.
Meanwhile, Brazilian soccer great Pele expressed his support for FIFA's move, telling newspapers he did not understand why it had taken them so long.