High altitude football teams have significant advantage over lowland teams

December 20, 2007

Football teams from high altitude countries have a significant advantage when playing at both low and high altitudes, finds a study in this week's Christmas issue of the BMJ.

In contrast, lowland teams are unable to acclimatise to high altitude, reducing physiological performance.

At altitude, lack of oxygen (hypoxia), cold and dehydration can lead to breathlessness, headaches, nausea, dizziness and fatigue, and possibly altitude sickness. Activities such as football can make symptoms worse, preventing players from performing at full capacity.

In May 2007, football's governing body, the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA), banned international matches from being played at more than 2500 m above sea level. So Patrick McSharry, a research fellow at the University of Oxford, set out to assess the effect of altitude on match results and physiological performance of a large and diverse sample of professional footballers.

He analysed the scores and results of 1,460 international football matches played at different altitudes in 10 countries in South America spanning over 100 years.

Four variables were used to calculate the effect of altitude and to control for differences in team ability (probability of a win, goals scored and conceded, and altitude difference between home and away team venues).

Altitude difference had a significant negative impact on performance. High altitude teams scored more and conceded fewer goals as altitude difference increased. Each additional 1,000m of altitude difference increased the goal difference by about half of a goal.

For example, in the case of two teams from the same altitude, the probability of the home team winning is 0.537. This rises to 0.825 for an altitude difference of 3,695m (such as high altitude Bolivia versus a sea level opponent Brazil) and falls to 0.213 when the altitude difference is -3,695m (Brazil versus Bolivia).

The surprising result is that the high altitude teams also had an advantage when playing at low altitude, so benefiting from a significant advantage over their low altitude opponents at all locations.

There is still some debate over the best strategy for low altitude teams to employ when playing at high altitude to deal with this disadvantage.

He suggests that assessing individual susceptibility to altitude illness would facilitate team selection.
-end-


BMJ

Related Sea Level Articles from Brightsurf:

Sea-level rise will have complex consequences
Rising sea levels will affect coasts and human societies in complex and unpredictable ways, according to a new study that examined 12,000 years in which a large island became a cluster of smaller ones.

From sea to shining sea: new survey reveals state-level opinions on climate change
A new report analyzing state-level opinions on climate change finds the majority of Americans believe in and want action on climate change--but factors like state politics and local climate play important roles.

UM researcher proposes sea-level rise global observing system
University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science researcher Shane Elipot proposes a new approach to monitoring global sea-level rise.

How much will polar ice sheets add to sea level rise?
Over 99% of terrestrial ice is bound up in the ice sheets covering Antarctic and Greenland.

Larger variability in sea level expected as Earth warms
A team of researchers from the University of Hawai'i (UH) at Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) identified a global tendency for future sea levels to become more variable as oceans warm this century due to increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

Sea-level rise could make rivers more likely to jump course
A new study shows that sea level rise will cause rivers to change course more frequently.

UCF study: Sea level rise impacts to Canaveral sea turtle nests will be substantial
The study examined loggerhead and green sea turtle nests to predict beach habitat loss at four national seashores by the year 2100.

Wetlands will keep up with sea level rise to offset climate change
Sediment accrual rates in coastal wetlands will outpace sea level rise, enabling wetlands to increase their capacity to sequester carbon, a study from the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, shows.

How sea level rise affects birds in coastal forests
Saltwater intrusion changes coastal vegetation that provides bird habitat. Researchers found that the transition from forests to marshes along the North Carolina coast due to climate change could benefit some bird species of concern for conservation.

As sea level rises, wetlands crank up their carbon storage
Some wetlands perform better under pressure. A new Nature study revealed that when faced with sea-level rise, coastal wetlands respond by burying even more carbon in their soils.

Read More: Sea Level News and Sea Level Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.