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All-Argentine Copa Libertadores Final to Be Played Outside Argentina

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LUQUE, Paraguay — The all-Argentine final of the Copa Libertadores, postponed twice last weekend after fan violence, will be played next month outside Argentina, according to tournament officials.

The South American soccer confederation, Conmebol, which oversees the tournament, decided Tuesday that the postponed second leg would be staged on Dec. 8 or 9 at a site to be determined. In a statement posted online, Conmebol also said the rescheduled match between the Buenos Aires archrivals Boca Juniors and River Plate should be held outside the country.

“It will be played outside Argentina because the conditions do not exist for the game to be played in Argentina,” Conmebol’s president, Alejandro Dominguez, said Tuesday. “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.”

Cities in Paraguay, Brazil, Colombia and Italy have reportedly offered to host a rescheduled match. The first leg, played at Boca Juniors’ La Bombonera stadium, finished in a 2-2 tie. The second leg, scheduled for Saturday at River Plate, was postponed after River fans attacked a bus carrying Boca’s team on its way to the stadium. Initially rescheduled for Sunday, the game was postponed indefinitely hours before kickoff.

The two-week delay will give time for Boca players to recover from injuries sustained in the bus attack. River fans hurled rocks and wood at the bus, shattering some of its windows. At least six players were injured, including the Boca captain, Pablo Perez, who was treated for a problem with his left eye. Other players were affected by tear gas and pepper spray used by the police to disperse the River fans.

Boca Juniors had requested that River Plate be disqualified at a disciplinary hearing on Tuesday at Conmebol headquarters in Paraguay; part of its argument could be its own disqualification from the tournament in 2015, after its fans attacked River Plate players with pepper spray in a tunnel at La Bombonera.

Another option would be to keep the match in Argentina, but to play it in an empty stadium.

Boca Juniors’ president, Daniel Angelici, said he would appeal any decision the club deemed inadequate punishment at the Court of Arbitration for Sport “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,” Angelici said.

The new timetable is important, however: It would ensure that the Libertadores champion can compete in this year’s Club World Cup, which starts on Dec. 12 in the United Arab Emirates.

The Conmebol champion will play its first match in the tournament on Dec. 18.


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