Bolivian president sets goal of nationalising football

La Paz: Dismayed by his country`s World Cup qualifying campaign, Bolivia`s soccer-loving president has suggested nationalising football may be the key to success.

President Evo Morales, an outspoken leftist and close ally of Venezuela`s Hugo Chavez, said state control could help the national team raise its game.

"We`re sorry about the performance of our team in the qualifiers. Until now (soccer) has been (controlled) by private, autonomous entities ... but they aren`t getting results," local newspapers quoted Morales as saying on Friday.

Morales, who often holds impromptu kickabouts with supporters or reporters, said soccer should be "nationalised to dignify (the national team)".

Bolivia are second from bottom in the 10-team South American qualifying group for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. They have won only three of 16 games despite their home advantage of playing in the high altitude of La Paz.

Morales has taken over tin smelters, natural gas fields and telecommunications operators but he gave no explanation of how football might be nationalised and the country`s soccer federation is already a non-profit organisation.

Bureau Report