After playing in the 1930 and 1950World Cups, they qualified just once—in 1994. There, playing champions Germany in the tournament's opening game in Chicago, Bolivia lost 1-0 as Marco Etcheverry, considered the nation's best player of the 1990s, got sent off just three minutes after coming on as a substitute. They have never advanced past the first round of any World Cup, and have only scored one goal, in 1994. However, they did win the Copa América at home in 1963, and finished as runner-ups in their following tournament as hosts in 1997.
Bolivia's greatest football achievement was the 1963 South American Championship title, which they hosted and had the advantage of being better used to the higher altitudes. Afterwards, the country only started to resurge in an international level with the creation of the Academia Tahuichi Aguilera in Santa Cruz de la Sierra in 1978, a football school that revealed players such as Marco Etcheverry, Erwin Sánchez and Luis Cristaldo. Under Spanish coach Xabier Azkargorta and featuring nine players from Tahuichi, Bolivia became the first team to beat Brazil in the South American qualifiers while playing them in La Paz, and qualified for the 1994 FIFA World Cup finishing second in Group B of the CONMEBOL qualifiers behind the Brazilians themselves. Bolivia was drawn into the tournament's Group C, and got selected as the adversary of defending champions Germany in the tournament's opening match. Bolivia lost in Chicago's Soldier Field 1-0 following a screw-up by goalkeeper Carlos Trucco, while also earning the fastest red card in World Cup history as Etcheverry got sent off just three minutes after entering the game. Following a 0-0 draw with South Korea at Foxboro Stadium, Bolivia returned to Chicago and lost 3-1 to Spain, with Sánchez scoring the first ever Bolivian goal in the World Cup. Following that Bolivia again hosted the South American Championship, now known as Copa América, in 1997. Again the team reached the finals, only for this time to finish as runner-ups to Brazil.
Bolivia's first uniforms were all white. In the 1930 FIFA World Cup, the Bolivians painted before the starting match with Yugoslavia one of the letters in "Viva Uruguay" in each of the eleven starters' jerseys to please the local crowd. In the following game with Brazil, given the adversary also wore white Bolivia instead borrowed Uruguay's own blue uniform to play. The Bolivians again painted a message to the hosts in the 1945 South American Championship, with the players' jerseys reading "Viva Chile". In 1946, Bolivia they changed their jersey colors to black and white stripes, like the colors of the Cochabamba region. FBF reverted to white the following year. In 1957, FBF decided to use one of the colors in the Flag of Bolivia. Given red and yellow were used by many of the other South Americans, green became the primary color, leading to the nickname "El Verde" ("The Green").
Bolivia play their home games at Estadio Hernando Siles, which has an altitude of 3,637 metres (11,932 ft) above sea level, making it one of the highest football stadiums in the world. Many visiting teams protest that the altitude gives Bolivia an unfair advantage against opponents. On May 27, 2007, FIFA declared that no World Cup Qualifying matches could be played in stadiums above 8,200 feet (2,500 m) above sea level. However FIFA raised the altitude limit after months of campaigning against the ban, thus allowing the stadium to continue holding World Cup qualifying matches.