Copa Libertadores finale postponed after Boca's bus attacked



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Luis Anders Henao and Debora Rey, Associated Press

Published Sunday, November 25, 2018 8:00 AM EST

Last Updated on Sunday, November 25, 2018 8:14 AM EST

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Argentines were expecting the end of the century between the country's biggest clubs and their eternal rivals. Instead, the world witnessed one of the biggest embarrassments in the history of South American football.

The Copa Libertadores final was postponed to Sunday after Boca Juniors players were injured when the bus was attacked by River Plate 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 these conditions," said Dominguez.

Boca players were injured on their bus a few blocks from Monumental de Nunez Stadium in Rio when rocks and pieces of wood thrown by River fans broke the windows.

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

Boca's captain, Pablo Perez, and teenager Gonzalo Lamardo were taken to nearby hospitals, where supporters gathered in support. Perez had injuries to his arms and eyes, according to images of Boca's locker room shared in social networks. Lamardo had difficulty breathing because of the gas.

Earlier, CONMEBOL said in a statement that its doctors noted that Boca players "suffered superficial skin lesions" and two "reported having eye injuries that could not be confirmed."

"We believe that, from the medical point of view, there is no reason to suspend the match," said the doctors of the South American soccer governing body.

Dominguez disagreed.

"This is football, not war. No team wants to play because that match would not be natural," he said.

Dominguez met with the club's directors and FIFA president Gianni Infantino before announcing the postponement.

"There was a gentlemen pact with the two clubs," said Dominguez. "There was a request from both clubs for the game to be suspended."

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

CONMEBOL initially delayed the start of the second match by one hour, then postponed for 2 hours, 15 minutes to 7:15 p.m. local time (2215 GMT).

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

Some of Rio's more than 66,000 fans also tried to break into the changing rooms, abruptly interrupting a TV interview with Rio's president, Rodolfo D & # 39; Onofrio.

"We want to play a match face-to-face," he said before being forced to run into the chaotic interior of Monumental de Nunez. "It is unfortunate that a divine party like this was interrupted by 15 hooligans. We were prevented from playing a match that the whole world was watching."

D & # 39; Onofrio also said that "there should be adequate prevention" to guide the Boca's bus safely into the stadium.

The Buenos Aires public security secretary, Marcelo Alessandro, admitted that there had been a security breach that opened the way for the attack.

Boca's president, Daniel Angelici, was escorted by security guards and security forces inside the stadium as River fans shouted "Coward!"

"The matches have to be won and lost on the pitch, but we were not in the same position to play," said Angelici. "As an Argentine and a football executive, I'm ashamed … look at the spectacle we gave the world."

The first round of the Copa Libertadores final was played three weeks ago and finished 2-2. It was postponed for a day after the torrential rain that flooded the field at the La Bombonera stadium in Boca. Boca fans were not allowed at the River Stadium after a ban in 2013 from visiting supporters aimed at countering the endemic violence of Argentine football. But it was not enough. No game seems more volatile than Boca vs. River.

"It's a shame. Security has failed," said Pablo Wende, a disgruntled River fan, walking out of the stadium with his children, Federico and Luca, wearing the team's white shirts with a red diagonal strip.

"We were looking forward to this final, like everyone else in the world."

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