Copa Libertadores final to be played outside Argentina


Asuncion - The twice-postponed second leg of the Copa Libertadores final between fierce local rivals River Plate and Boca Juniors will be played next month outside Argentina, South American football administrators Conmebol said on Tuesday.

Following a meeting with the two Argentine clubs' presidents in the Paraguayan capital Asuncion, Conmebol said the match would take place on "December 8 or 9 outside Argentina" at an as yet undecided venue.

The original second-leg clash between the two Buenos Aires clubs at the weekend was postponed after Boca players were injured in an attack on their team bus by River fans using pepper spray and throwing stones and sticks.

Conmebol president Alejandro Dominguez told reporters that "the final cannot be played in Argentina."

A Conmebol statement moments earlier said that due to the "violence... that put players, officials and fans at risk... it would not be prudent to play the final in" Argentina.

The tie is delicately poised following a 2-2 draw at Boca's Bombonera stadium just over two weeks ago.

The second leg had to be postponed after Boca players suffered cuts from broken glass and from smoke inhalation when their bus was attacked by River fans on the way to the Monumental Stadium in the Argentine capital on Saturday.

The match was originally postponed by 24 hours before Conmebol announced on Sunday that it was being suspended indefinitely ahead of Tuesday's meeting at the body's headquarters in the Paraguayan capital.

Dominguez had praised the teams' presidents on Saturday for coming to "a gentleman's agreement" in agreeing to delay the match.

But Boca's president Daniel Angelici petitioned the continent's governing body to award them the trophy, a move his River counterpart Rodolfo D'Onofrio branded "shameful" and a "betrayal."

"I'm struggling to believe he cannot keep his promise," D'Onofrio fumed on Radio Mitre.

"We signed a document and we shook hands."

Boca had asked Conmebol to apply its Article 18 which includes provisions for possible punishments, including the forfeiture of a match.

Conmebol's disciplinary commission opened a dossier on Monday evening, giving River 24 hours to present its defence.

Both Argentina President Mauricio Macri, a fan and former president of Boca, and the mayor of Buenos Aires, Horacio Rodriguez Larreta, accepted responsibility for the "security failure" around the match.

On Monday, the security minister for the Argentine capital, Martin Ocampo, resigned.

Three years ago, Boca were kicked out of the Copa Libertadores at the last 16 stage after an attack by their fans on River players at half-time of their second-leg clash at the Bombonera.

The game was suspended with River given a walkover and they went on to lift the trophy for the third time.

That time, the attack happened inside the ground where security is the club's responsibility, whereas on Saturday it took place in the streets, where it is the state that has jurisdiction.

Some potential venues have already expressed an interest in hosting the derby dubbed a "superclasico", and the most important in Argentine club football history, as it pits the two most popular teams in the country against each other in the continent's most prestigious final.

The group that runs the Atletico Mineiro stadium in Brazilian city Belo Horizonte offered on Tuesday to host the match.

That came a day after the Italian city of Genoa offered to host the match, citing cultural links between the city and Italian immigrants to Argentina in the early 20th century.

Another possible venue for the final is Asuncion.

Conmebol said on Tuesday it would foot the bill for both teams, paying for the "costs of the journey, accommodation, food and internal displacements for up to 40 people per delegation."

Since its inception in 1960, the Copa Libertadores final has been played over two home-and-away legs but as of next year it will change to a single encounter at a venue chosen in advance. In 2019 it will be played in Chile's capital, Santiago.

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