Libertadores final set for Dec. 9 in Madrid
The second leg of the Copa Libertadores final between River Plate and Boca Juniors will be played the night of Dec. 9 at Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium, the president of the South American Soccer Confederation (Conmebol) said here Thursday.
“This is the king of sports. Those of us who know this and know that it’s just win or lose and not kill or die are taking a step forward,” Alejandro Dominguez said, alluding to the violence that forced the contest between the two Buenos Aires clubs to be postponed and moved to a neutral site.
The match will be played publicly for all “soccer lovers,” he emphasized.
During the negotiations to find a solution to the crisis, in which Boca announced that it would not be willing to play “any game” and demanded the title and the disqualification of River Plate, Conmebol announced on Tuesday that the decisive match would be played outside Argentina.
Dominguez thanked FIFA president Gianni Infantino, UEFA chief Aleksander Ceferin and Florentino Perez, the president of Real Madrid, the owner of the Bernabeu, for their mediation and efforts in the talks.
Regarding the decision to play the 58th Copa Libertadores final at a neutral site, he emphasized that he did not think that the essence of the tourney had been lost.
“We found in Spain the necessary neutrality that Conmebol was seeking. We think that the connectivity at the Madrid airport is important. Also, Argentines living in Spain can have this experience,” he said.
The contest was initially scheduled for Saturday afternoon but was rescheduled for Sunday at 5 pm due to violent incidents.
But Boca Juniors asked Conmebol on Sunday to reschedule the match again in light of the “magnitude and severity” of the violence a day earlier around River Plate’s El Monumental Stadium.
In an initial incident, the team bus carrying Boca players from their corner of the Argentine capital to El Monumental came under attack by River 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.
The arch-rivals played to a 2-2 draw at Boca’s La Bombonera Stadium in the Nov. 11 first leg of the final.