The Estadio Hernando Siles is a football stadium located in La Paz, Bolivia. The stadium is located at an altitude of 3,637 metres above the sea level, making it one of the highest professional stadiums in the world.
Estadio Hernando Siles Stadium Capacity
The stadium currently has a capacity of 41,143 seats and serves as the home ground of three popular Bolivian football clubs - Club Bolivar, The Strongest and La Paz FC. It also hosts the home matches of smaller clubs like Universitario La Paz, Chaco Petrolero and Mariscal Braun.
The stadium was built in the late 1920s to provide Bolivia with a standard football venue. The stadium was inaugurated in 1930 with a match between The Strongest and their rivals Universitario. The Strongest won the game 4-1.
The stadium could initially hold 25,000 spectators. It underwent an expansion in 1977 when the second tier was built along with the main stand.
The stadium was named after Hernando Siles who was Bolivia’s 31st President and was serving term at that time.
The Estadio Hernando Siles has been witness to a number of significant moments in Bolivian football. In 1993, during the CONMEBOL Qualifiers for the 1994 FIFA World Cup, Bolivia defeated Brazil 2-0 in front of the fans at the Estadio Hernando Siles. This was Brazil’s first loss in a World Cup qualifier in 40 years.
The occasion was made more historic in the sense that the same Brazilian team would be crowned world champions 12 months later. Marco Etcheverry and Alvaro Pena scored the goals for Bolivia in the dying seconds of the game.
Another moment of history occurred on April 1, 2009 during another CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifier for the 2010 FIFA World Cup when Bolivia thrashed Argentina 6-1. The Bolivians knew that anything less than a win would dash their hopes for a World Cup finals berth.
This would motivate them as they brought Diego Maradona’s side’s three match unbeaten run to an end. Correcaminos striker Joaquin Botero scored a hattrick whereas the other three goals were scored by Marcelo Moreno, Alex da Rosa and Didi Torrico. It was the worst defeat for Argentina for 60 years.
Until May 2007, FIFA accepted Estadio Hernando Siles as a World Cup Qualifier venue despite a number of complains and protests from visiting teams. To ensure that teams like Bolivia do not have an unfair advantage due to high altitude, FIFA ruled that no qualifying matches can be played in stadiums having an altitude above 8,200 feet or 2500 metres.
After much protests from Latin America’s high-altitude nations which claimed that the ruling was discriminatory in nature, FIFA increased the limit from 2500 metres to 3000 metres and exempted Bolivia’s Estadio Hernando Siles from the ruling.
An example of the home advantage received by Bolivia in this regard can be understood from the fact that across the qualifying campaigns for the 2002, 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cups, Bolivia has compiled ten home wins and eight draws. They have recorded two draws and no wins away.
In the most recent World Cup Qualifier held at the Estadio Hernando Siles, Bolivia held Brazil to a goalless draw. This followed a 1-0 win over Chile with Juan Arce scoring from the spot.