Saturday , November 28 2020

Copa Libertadores finally postponed after Boca was attacked



Luis Anders Henao and Deborah Ray, Associated Press

Posted Sunday, November 25, 2018, 8:00 EST

Last Updated Sunday, 25 November 2018 8:14 EST

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – The Argentineans were expecting the final of the century among the biggest clubs in the country and their eternal rivals. Instead, the world witnessed one of the biggest concerns in the history of football in South America.

The King of Copa Libertadores was postponed for Sunday after Boca Juniors' players were injured when their bus was attacked by Ray Lee's fans.

CONMEBOL President Alejandro Dominguez announced the decision on Saturday, just 10 minutes before the start of the final.

"One team did not want to play and the other did not want to win under those conditions," Dominguez said.

Boca players were injured on the bus just a few blocks from the Monumental de Nunez Stadium on a river where rocks and pieces of wood thrown by river supporters broke the windows.

Some players were also affected by tear gas and pepper used by the police to suppress violence.

Captain Bocca Pablo Perez and teenager Gonzalo Lamardo were taken to nearby hospitals where the fans gathered. Perez has injured hands and eye, according to the images of Boca's dressing room, shared in social media. Lamardo had difficulty breathing because of gas.

Earlier, CONMEBOL said in a statement that his doctors noted that Boca's players "suffered surface skin injuries," and two "said they had eye injuries that could not be confirmed."

"We believe that there is no reason to stop the game from a medical point of view," said the doctors of the South American football team.

Dominguez did not agree.

"This is football, not war, no team wants to play because this game will be unnatural," he said.

Dominguez met with the club's directors and FIFA President Gianni Inrantino before announcing the postponement.

"There was a gentleman's contract with both clubs," said Dominguez. "There was a demand from both clubs for the match to be stopped."

The game was called "The Final For All Time" because it was the first time the two fierce rivals met in the final of the most wanted club tournament in South America.

CONMEBOL initially delayed the start of the second leg for an hour, then postponed it for 2 hours, 15 minutes until 7:15. local time (2215 GMT).

After the match was stopped, fans clashed with the police outside the stadium. At least 30 people were arrested, according to local media.

Some of the over 66,000 fans of the river also tried to invade the dressing rooms, which suddenly interrupted the TV interview of the President of the Rodolfo d'Onofrio River.

"We want to play a game at the head," he said, before being forced to escape into the chaotic interior of the Monumental de Nunez. "It is unfortunate that such a divine party was interrupted by 15 hooligans, and we were stopped playing a game that the whole world was watching."

Onofrio also stated that "there must have been adequate prevention" to guide Boca's bus safely to the stadium.

Buenos Aires Public Security Secretary Marcello Alessandro admitted there was a security failure that opened the way for the attack.

President Boca Daniel Angelci was accompanied by bodyguards and security forces at the stadium while the fans of the river shouted: "Cowardly!"

"The games have to be won and lost on the pitch but we were not in the same playing conditions," said Angelci. "As an Argentine and as a football executive, I'm embarrassed … see the spectacle we give the world."

The first final of Copa Libertadores final was played three weeks ago and ended with 2-2. It was delayed the day after the heavy rain that flooded the station at La Bombonera stadium of Boca. Boca fans have not been admitted to the River stadium after a 2013 ban on visiting supporters aimed at combating endemic football violence in Argentina. But that was not enough. No game seems more unstable than Boca River.

"Security is unsuccessful," said Pablo Wend, a phenomenal rebellious fan who came out of the stadium with his sons Federico and Luca, who were wearing the white shirts of the team with a red diagonal ribbon.

"We expected this final, like everyone else in the world."


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