Thu, Nov 29, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Delayed Libertadores final moved outside Argentina

Reuters, ASUNCION

Boca Juniors president Daniel Angelici arrives at the Bourbon Hotel in Asuncion, Paraguay, on Tuesday before a meeting at CONMEBOL headquarters with River Plate president Rodolfo D’Onofrio to discuss the rescheduling of the Copa Libertadores final.

Photo: Reuters

The Copa Libertadores soccer final between Argentine rivals River Plate and Boca Juniors is to take place early next month outside of Argentina after fan violence forced the match to be postponed last week, organizers said on Tuesday.

The South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) said in a statement that the game — the South American equivalent of the Champions League final in Europe — should be played on Saturday next week or Dec. 9, but did not specify an alternative location.

After playing to a 2-2 draw in the final’s first leg, Argentina’s two biggest clubs were scheduled to meet in the decisive second leg on Saturday at River’s El Monumental. The match was called off after several Boca players were hurt when their bus was pelted with rocks by River fans.

“It will be played outside Argentina because the conditions do not exist for the game to be played in Argentina,” CONMEBOL president Alejandro Dominguez told a news conference after meeting with the heads of both clubs at the confederation’s headquarters in Paraguay.

Paraguayan National Police Commander Walter Vazquez told a local radio station that Asuncion could be the venue and that the match would be played on Dec. 9.

Meanwhile, Boca Juniors have officially requested that CONMEBOL disqualify River and award the championship to them. The organization has opened disciplinary proceedings against River.

Boca president Daniel Angelici said in Paraguay that the club could take its case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, an international body headquartered in Switzerland that settles sporting disputes.

The showdown between the fierce Buenos Aires rivals was billed as the greatest final in the competition’s 58-year history.

Both legs were sold out, and fans and media came from around the world to watch what many consider to be one of the most bitter rivalries in world sport.

Even though the stadium was filled to capacity, Boca said they were in no state to play and CONMEBOL first delayed the match and later postponed it until Sunday.

On Sunday, CONMEBOL called the game off once again after Boca complained that a fair contest could not be guaranteed if the game was played at River’s El Monumental.

The postponements of what was supposed to have been a gala occasion for South American soccer was a huge embarrassment to CONMEBOL and Argentina, which this week hosts a G20 summit.

Argentine President Mauricio Macri on Monday called for the Argentine Congress to pass a bill in special session that would more severely punish soccer hooliganism.

In addition to the Paraguayan capital of Asuncion, Miami has been suggested as a potential site for the rescheduled match. Cities in Italy, Brazil and Colombia have also reportedly offered to host.

The new date would ensure that the Libertadores champions can compete in this year’s FIFA Club World Cup, which starts on Dec. 12 in the United Arab Emirates.

The CONMEBOL winners play their first match in the tournament on Dec. 18 and could face UEFA Champions League winners Real Madrid in the final.

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