By Andrew Warshaw
November 30 – After a series of twists, turns, disagreements and crisis meetings, the second leg of the twice postponed Copa Libertadores final between Boca Juniors and River Plate will be switched to Europe and played more than 6,000 miles away in Madrid on December 9.
Qatar, Paraguay, Brazil and Miami had all been touted as possible venues – the first of those because it was relatively close to the United Arab Emirates where the Club World Cup will take place the following week.
But Conmebol has now agreed to play the game at Real Madrid’s Bernabeu stadium following the assault on the Boca team bus that left injured several players and plunged South America’s most prestigious club fixture into disgrace.
Both sets of supporters will be given an equal allocation of tickets for the match in the Spanish capital even though originally away fans were barred from both legs. Boca were held 2-2 in the first leg when River Plate fans were barred.
Whilst the decision to split ticket allocation may give Boca a slight advantage on what will now be neutral territory, the club are understood to be considering whether to agree to play in Madrid at all after Conmebol rejected their appeal to be awarded the trophy by default.
Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez, tweeted: “Spain is ready to organise the final of the Copa Libertadores between Boca Juniors and River Plate.
“The security forces have extensive experience of these situations and are already working on the necessary deployments to ensure the event is secure.”
The final marks the first time the two fierce city rivals are competing against one another in South America’s equivalent of the Champions League.
Conmebol has confirmed that River Plate will be fined $400,000 for the attack on the Boca bus and have their ground closed for two games. Presumably, FIFA and UEFA both approved the switch to Madrid though ironically, Gianni Infantino recently came out against La Liga’s plans to play a much publicised domestic fixture overseas in Miami.
Dominguez hailed Madrid as “the ideal city” for the Boca-River Plate showdown and again condemned the violence which forced last weekend’s postponement, urging any potential trouble-makers to “not even think about travelling, there’s no place for them.”
“We are facing an exceptional situation and we had to look for an alternative city, we believe that the city of Madrid has all the conditions we need.”
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