Copa Libertadores final put back to Sunday after Boca bus attack

Several Boca players were injured either by glass from broken windows or from toxic gas

The Boca Juniors team bus leaving their hotel on the way to the Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires before it was attacked by River Plate fans. Photograph:   José Romero/Telam/AFP/Getty Images

The Boca Juniors team bus leaving their hotel on the way to the Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires before it was attacked by River Plate fans. Photograph: José Romero/Telam/AFP/Getty Images

 

The second leg of the Copa Libertadores final between River Plate and Boca Juniors was suspended on Saturday in Buenos Aires after Boca players were hurt when their bus was attacked outside the stadium by River fans, officials said.

“One can’t play in these conditions,” Alejandro Dominguez, president of the South American Football Confederation, Conmebol, told reporters.

The match was rescheduled for Sunday, kicking off at 5pm local time (8pm Irish time).

Several Boca players were injured either by glass from broken windows or from toxic gas after River fans pelted their coach with missiles as it approached the ground, local media reported.

Conmebol initially announced that the game would be put back an hour to 6pm local time (9pm Irish time) but put it back further to 7.30pm local time (10.30pm Irish time) to receive medical reports on the condition of the Boca players.

The delays came after a chaotic afternoon outside the Monumental stadium in the Argentine capital.

Some reports said police fired tear gas at River fans who were throwing missiles at the Boca bus and the gas got into the vehicle and affected the players.

Others reported that the damage was caused by River fans.

Supporters of River Plate cover their faces after being affected by pepper gas sprayed by police outside the Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires. Photograph: Javier Gonzalez/Toledo/AFP/Getty Images
Supporters of River Plate cover their faces after being affected by pepper gas sprayed by police outside the Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires. Photograph: Javier Gonzalez/Toledo/AFP/Getty Images

“They were throwing pepper gas, stones, everything,” Clarin website quoted Juan Carlos Crespi, a member of the Boca delegation, as saying.

Boca officials told reporters some of their players were not fit to play in the match and that captain Pablo Perez was taken to hospital after being cut by shards of glass.

“The players are all hurt, you can’t play this way,” Christian Gribaudo, Boca’s secretary general, said.

Clarin said six players had vomited in the dressingroom after ingesting the toxic substance.

Boca and River drew the first leg 2-2 on November 11th.

The first delay was decided barely an hour before the kick-off and in the presence of Fifa president Gianni Infantino, who travelled to Buenos Aires to watch the game.

The match marked the first time Argentina’s two biggest clubs have met in the final of the Libertadores, South America’s equivalent of the Champions League, and it was widely billed as the greatest final in the competition’s 58-year history.

Earlier in this season’s competition, River Plate coach Marcelo Gallardo brazenly flaunted a decision banning him from the dressingroom in the semi-final second leg against Brazilian club Gremio.

Gallardo was given another ban but River, who scored twice after the coach’s intervention to qualify on away goals, were allowed to progress into the final.

Saturday’s incident occurred three years after a Libertadores last-16 tie between the same teams was abandoned at half-time after Boca fans attacked the River players with pepper spray in the tunnel.

River were given a bye into the quarter-finals and Boca were kicked out the competition.

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