Postponed Copa Libertadores final to be played outside of Argentina after fan violence
LUQUE, Paraguay (AP) — Fearing more fan violence, organizers have decided that the postponed Copa Libertadores final between two Argentine rivals should be played in another country.
The second leg of the final — the biggest game in South American club soccer — had to be called off on Saturday when visiting Boca Juniors‘ bus was attacked en route to River Plate’s stadium and at least six players were injured.
South American organizer CONMEBOL announced Tuesday that the game will now be played outside Argentina on Dec. 8 or 9, although a new venue has yet to be picked. The first leg finished 2-2.
The decision has yet to be validated by the soccer body’s disciplinary committee, and Boca’s club president Daniel Angelici said he will appeal all the way to the Court of Arbitration for Sport “if needed.”
“We do not accept to play any match until the court decides and we do not agree that dates have been set because we are not ready to play a final,” he said after the meeting at CONMEBOL’s headquarters.
Miami has been touted as a possible host for the game, while Paraguay and Brazil have also offered to stage the highly anticipated derby between the Argentine archrivals.
River Plate’s President Rodolfo D’Onofrio said his club should not be blamed for the attack.
“We have to play this match. River is not guilty of what happened, the security system failed,” he told radio La Red of Buenos Aires.
D’Onofrio also disagreed with CONMEBOL’s decision to strip River of the right to host the final at the Monumental de Nunez stadium.
“It can’t be that a River-Boca will not be played (there) because some people caused a disaster,” he said.
The two-week delay gives time for Boca players to recover from the injuries suffered when their bus was attacked. River fans hurled rocks, bottles and wood at the bus, shattering several windows. Boca captain Pablo Perez was injured in one eye, while others were affected by tear gas and pepper spray used by police to disperse the River fans.
CONMEBOL President Alejandro Dominguez said “the conditions to play in Argentina are not right.”
“Football is not about violence, it is decided with goals,” he said. “Football is not what we saw on the weekend. That is a disease that needs to be eradicated.”
This is not the first time a big game between the two sides has been marred by violence.
Three years ago, CONMEBOL disqualified Boca in the round of 16 of the Copa Libertadores after River players were attacked with pepper spray on the pitch of Boca’s La Bombonera stadium.
The chaotic final is a blow to CONMEBOL’s efforts to clean up its image after several of its top executives were caught in corruption scandals, some associated with Copa Libertadores broadcasting rights.