Copa Libertadores Final: The ‘disgraceful’ Superclásico being played 10,000 miles from home

For the first time in its history, the Copa Libertadores Final will be played outside America as Madrid’s Bernabéu plays host to the final chapter of this extraordinary story on Sunday.

Boca Juniors and River Plate, Argentina’s two biggest clubs, have a fierce rivalry that has run its course for generations.

This is the first time there has been a ‘superclásico’ in the final of South America’s premier club competition, with the first leg ending 2-2 at Boca’s Bombanera stadium.

Fan violence prevented the second leg being played at River’s Monumental after home fans attacked the Boca team bus on its route to the stadium.

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Argentinian police forces used pepper spray to disperse the crowd, which filtered into the Boca bus and took its toll on some of the players.

While the move to Madrid seems like a sensible decision, football traditionalists in South America are outraged at the situation.

Former Manchester United and Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez, now at Boca Juniors, was one of those dismayed at the call: “I think it’s embarrassing for the people, not so much for the players.

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“They took away our dream of playing the final in our country,” he told the BBC.

Boca Juniors boss Guillermo Barros Schelotto is disappointed at the whole event: “Unfortunately, we never learn. It seems we make the same mistakes over and over again, and what is damaged is the image of Argentinian and South American football.

“Today we should be talking about how River and Boca made Argentina proud and instead, we are talking about violence. Again, we have lost to violence.”

After what happened in Buenos Aires, some have called for Boca to be awarded the trophy. River Plate owner Rodolfo D’Onofrio isn’t as sympathetic: “River’s responsibility is zero. It was the security system that failed, absolutely and totally.

“River are the victims. We are at a disadvantage because we played in Boca’s stadium and now Boca are not playing at River’s stadium.”

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D’Onofrio also admitted he’d received death threats from opposition supporters: “I have 200 or 250 Boca fans who say they’re going to kill me.”

River’s manager Marcelo Gallardo is also frustrated with the eventual outcome, branding it a “total disgrace.”

He said, “We have lost home advantage.

“Some day we are going to rethink what happened and we will remember it as a total disgrace.

“Our preparations have changed. We are going to play 10,000 kilometres away. The Copa Libertadores of America. They’ve robbed the fans.”

Former Boca Juniors star Diego Maradona has also launched a scathing attack on Conmebol (the South American football governing body).

“I want to tell [CONMEBOL president Alejandro] Dominguez, what the hell do me and my family have to do to see this final in Madrid?” he told Argentine station Radio La Red.

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“I wonder why they can’t play it in Velez Sarsfield’s stadium. They [Conmebol] are the scourge of football.”

This final is the latest in a long line of historic matches to be held at Real Madrid’s Bernabéu. It’s hosted four European Cup and Champions League finals, several Copa Del Rey finals as well as the finals of Euro 1964 and the 1982 World Cup.

Los Blancos president Florentino Perez hopes to have Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo side by side in the directors’ box to watch the game. They will be joined in the stadium by 7,000 Real Madrid club members.

Boca and River were allocated just 5,000 tickets between them and, with fans unable to fly across the world to get to the game, expect to see very few true supporters from either side.

 

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