Football

Real Madrid’s Bernabeu to host Copa Libertadores final

The rearranged Copa Libertadores final second leg between Boca Juniors and River Plate will be played in Madrid on December 9th, South American soccer’s governing body said on Thursday (29th November).

Originally scheduled for last weekend at River’s Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires, it was postponed after some Boca players were injured when their team bus came under attack from their arch rivals’ fans throwing projectiles.

Boca appealed to CONMEBOL’s independent disciplinary committee to be awarded the trophy and have River expelled from the competition, but that was also rejected on Thursday.

Instead, CONMEBOL hit River with a two-game stadium closure “that will be applied from 2019” in official continental competitions, and “a $400,000 fine.”

In a separate statement issued late Thursday, Boca Juniors said it “did not share” the arguments of the CONMEBOL disciplinary panel and planned to appeal.

CONMEBOL president Alejandro Dominguez said that Real president Florentino Perez had offered use of the Bernabeu “for free.”

“Madrid is the city with the biggest Argentine population in the world, outside Argentina,” said Dominguez.

“It’s the 10th safest city in the world, it has the airport with the greatest connectivity, and it’s a city with a football tradition.”

Several Boca players suffered cuts from broken glass and the effects of smoke inhalation following the bus attack on Saturday.

While CONMEBOL initially insisted the match would go ahead, the two sides’ presidents agreed to postpone the second leg for 24 hours.

But a day later, Boca refused to play again, insisting they would be disadvantaged, and the match was indefinitely postponed.

On Monday, Boca petitioned CONMEBOL to be awarded the victory but a day later, the governing body said the match would go ahead “outside Argentina.”

The Buenos Aires rivals drew their first leg in early November at Boca’s iconic Bombonera arena 2-2.

River and Boca are the two most popular teams in Argentina, allegedly commanding between them 70% of the country’s football fans.

They have won the Copa Libertadores nine times between them. While Boca have won the title twice as many times, River held it aloft most recently, in 2015.

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