River Plate president urges Boca Juniors to play Libertadores final
River Plate president Rodolfo D’Onofrio on Wednesday poked fun at his Boca Juniors counterpart, Daniel Angelici, urging him to reconsider and play the second leg of the Copa Libertadores final.
“I’m asking you earnestly, Angelici, come out and play, come out and play. We’re not that good, play, you can beat us. If Boca’s president is listening: Come out and play, keep your word. Enough with the complaints, don’t invent more stuff. You have to have values,” D’Onofrio said in a press conference.
The South American Soccer Confederation (Conmebol) said Tuesday that the second leg of the final between the Buenos Aires-based arch-rivals would be played on Dec. 8 or Dec. 9 at a neutral site.
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.
Boca Juniors asked the regional soccer body on Sunday to reschedule the match in light of the “magnitude and severity” of the violence a day earlier around River Plate’s El Monumental Stadium.
On Tuesday, Angelici said following a meeting in Asuncion, Paraguay, among Boca Juniors, River Plate and Conmebol officials that his club would not accept the regional soccer body’s plan for the final until it ruled on his club’s demand for penalties against River Plate.
“We will not accept to play any match until (the Conmebol Disciplinary Tribunal) speaks,” Angelici said.
D’Onofrio criticized Boca Juniors for going back on an agreement reached over the weekend.
“We signed a paper saying it would be played in 24 hours, so it would be on Sunday, we agreed to postpone it, but I never thought they were writing that night to ask for the points. Angelici went back on his word, on what he promised,” D’Onofrio said.
The club president said River agreed to postpone the match because its rival’s players had been affected by tear gas and did not want “to have an advantage.”
The violence around El Monumental Stadium was caused by an “operational error in the security” and was not River Plate’s fault, D’Onofrio said.
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 fans 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 clashed with police while some Boca players were being treated by medical personnel and team officials and representatives of Conmebol, which organizes the Copa Libertadores, were discussing whether the match should be postponed.
The clubs played to a 2-2 draw at Boca’s La Bombonera Stadium in the Nov. 11 first leg of the final.
Due to concerns about fighting between supporters of the arch-rivals, away fans had been barred from both legs of the final.
The Italian city of Genoa has offered to host the match, but there is speculation that Abu Dhabi, where next month’s FIFA Club World Cup tournament will be staged, may be another option.