Fans left out of pocket as Conmebol switches Copa Libertadores final from Santiago to Lima

November 6 – Conmebol have shifted the final of the Copa Libertadores from the Santiago to Lima because of security concerns in the Chilean capital.

After a meeting with finalists Flamengo and River Plate in Asunción, the showpiece final was moved from Santiago to the Peruvian capital, because of social unrest in Chile. Nationwide protests over living conditions in the country have hamstrung Chile for weeks and with the APEC meeting cancelled Conmebol on Tuesday finally followed suit by moving the final away from the Chilean capital.

The South American ruling body had proposed several ideas for consideration: keep the final in Santiago, shift the date to November 30 or move the final to Asuncion, where the final of the continent’s other club competition, the Copa Sul-Americana, will be played. Shifting the final to another continent was ruled out this time. Last season, the Copa Libertadores final was moved to Madrid over security concerns in Buenos Aires.

In the end, it was decided that Peru will stage the 90-minute final instead of Santiago. The clubs reportedly wanted a return to the old home-and-away format, but that was discarded by Conmebol. The final will be played at 3pm local time to avoid problems with the lighting of the Monumental Stadium and serve the European TV market. Technically, Lima’s Estadio Nacional, with a capacity of 50,000, could also host the final.

The decision is a major U-turn by Conmebol. The governing body has been very keen on copying the Champions League final model to turn its showpiece final into a commercial juggernaut, but moving the final at the very last minute – with just 19  days left – will have consequences.

Lima had been favorites to host the final initially, but didn’t submit a candidature due to internal problems. Conmebol then proceeded to pick Santiago, but indicated that Lima would get the Sul-Americana final, which was ultimately awarded to Asunción.

After protests broke out in Chile, Conmebol had hoped that the situation would calm down, but those hopes faded last week. With the APEC summit cancelled, Chile’s sports minister insisted that the final would go ahead, even though Santiago’s mayor poured doubt over the minister’s words by saying everything depended on the resumption of domestic football, which had been suspended.

Ultimately, Lima was picked by consensus as host city. Conmebol said in a statement that the decision was supported by both River Plate and Flamengo.

At least in one sense Conmebol has got its ‘Champions League’ final. In a matter of hours flight prices to Lima skyrocketed, leaving those fans with tickets for the final with almost no choice but to fork out heavily if they wanted to attend the match.

Onward flights from Santiago to Lima cost about $125, but those prices had quadrupled by the end of the day. It will leave plenty of River Plate and Flamengo fans, who had made prior arrangements in Santiago, out in the cold. Conmebol has said that it will refund match tickets for fans who can’t make it because of the switch of venue. In 2020, the Maracana Stadium is supposed to host the Copa Libertadores final. At least, that will give Flamengo fans a chance to watch the final closer to home.

Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1573825222labto1573825222ofdlr1573825222owedi1573825222sni@o1573825222fni1573825222