Stadia from across the world are lining up to host the second leg of the Copa Libertadores final after the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) ruled that the game should take place outside Argentina following the fan violence that led to the cancellation of Saturday’s match at El Monumental, the home of Superliga club River Plate.
River was due to face off against arch rival Boca Juniors in Buenos Aires at the weekend after the first leg of South American club football’s biggest game finished 2-2 at Boca’s La Bombonera stadium on November 11.
However, Boca’s team bus was attacked by River fans as it travelled to El Monumental resulting in injuries to at least six players. Despite the stadium being filled to capacity, CONMEBOL was forced to postpone the game to Sunday before calling it off for good after Boca complained that a fair contest could not be guaranteed if the match took place at the 70,000-capacity El Monumental (pictured).
CONMEBOL announced in a statement yesterday (Tuesday) that the game will now be played at a venue outside Argentina on either December 8 or 9. CONMEBOL will reportedly make a decision on the new host at a meeting on Tuesday, with an array of potential venues being linked to the game.
The Mineirão stadium in Minas Gerais, Brazil, has reportedly put its name forward, while the Italian city of Genoa and US city of Miami have also been linked to the game. Abu Dhabi has also been touted as a potential host, with the capital of the United Arab Emirates due to stage the FIFA Club World Cup from December 12-22. The winner of the Copa Libertadores would take part in the Club World Cup.
Closer to home, the Paraguayan capital of Asuncion and Colombia have also been linked to staging the second leg, but CONMEBOL’s ruling is proving contentious for both Boca and River. The decision has yet to be officially confirmed by CONMEBOL’s disciplinary committee, and Boca president Daniel Angelici said he will appeal all the way to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) “if needed.”
“We do not accept to play any match until the court decides and we do not agree that dates have been set because we are not ready to play a final,” he said, according to the Associated Press news agency.
Meanwhile, River Plate president Rodolfo D’Onofrio said his club should not be punished for the attack. He told Buenos Aires radio station La Red: “We have to play this match. River is not guilty of what happened, the security system failed. It can’t be that a River-Boca will not be played (at El Monumental) because some people caused a disaster.”
Commenting on the decision, CONMEBOL president Alejandro Dominguez said “the conditions to play in Argentina are not right.” He added: “Football is not about violence, it is decided with goals. Football is not what we saw on the weekend. That is a disease that needs to be eradicated.”