Conmebol postpones River Plate-Boca Juniors Copa Libertadores final
South American Soccer Confederation (Conmebol) president Alejandro Dominguez said Sunday that the second leg of the Copa Libertadores final between Buenos Aires-based clubs River Plate and Boca Juniors would be rescheduled once again to an unspecified date because the conditions for staging the match were inadequate.
“The conditions are not there and since we’re interested in the good of soccer, we’re going to ask the two clubs to attend a meeting in Asuncion to set a new date,” Dominguez said, adding that the Conmebol Council had issued a resolution on the final.
The championship match was initially scheduled for Saturday afternoon but was rescheduled for Sunday at 5:00 pm due to a series of violent incidents that forced officials to postpone the final of South America’s premier club tournament.
“When the players enter (the stadium), we don’t want them to have any excuses. The Conmebol Council cannot guarantee (the conditions for the) event and that’s why we are going to postpone the match,” Dominguez, the South American soccer body’s top official, told Fox Sports.
“It’s the fault of those who are not ready to go, not that of Conmebol. We have medical reports that don’t guarantee there will be a level playing field. The decision has been made,” Dominguez said.
The Conmebol president wanted to play the match, but he changed his position around noon after Boca Juniors asked the soccer body to postpone the final.
Earlier in the day, officials said River Plate’s El Monumental Stadium was ready for the club’s clash with arch-rival Boca Juniors.
The Government Control Agency (AGC) fined River Plate on Saturday because the club had added too many seats to the stadium, forcing management to reconfigure the venue.
AGC officials told EFE that River paid the fine, making it possible for the stadium to host the match.
On Saturday, at least 29 people were arrested due to violent incidents in the vicinity of El Monumental, prompting officials to postpone the second leg of the Copa Libertadores final.
In an initial incident, the team bus carrying Boca Juniors players to El Monumental came under attack by River Plate fans in Buenos Aires’ Belgrano neighborhood.
Some objects thrown by the rowdy supporters shattered the vehicle’s windows. Police responded by using pepper spray to disperse the assailants, but the action, according to team executives, ended up injuring some Boca players.
Later, a crowd of people who had gathered outside the stadium engaged in clashes with police while some Boca players were being treated by medical personnel and team officials and representatives of South America’s Conmebol soccer federation, which organizes the Copa Libertadores, were discussing whether the match should be postponed.
Buenos Aires government representatives said more than 100,000 people had gathered around El Monumental Stadium.
Conmebol had pushed back the start time for the second-leg contest on two occasions due to the unrest before deciding to re-schedule it for Sunday.
The teams played to a 2-2 draw at Boca’s La Bombonera Stadium in the Nov. 11 first leg of the final.
Due to concerns of fighting between supporters of the arch-rival clubs, away fans had been barred from both legs of the final.