Libertadores final to be played in Madrid — reports

This file photo shows an aerial view of Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu Stadium from the top of the Europa Tower in Madrid. Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu Stadium may host the second leg of the Copa Libertadores final between Argentine rivals River Plate and Boca Juniors postponed after fan violence at the weekend, Spanish media said on Thursday. — AFP

ASUNCION/MADRID — The postponed second leg of the Copa Libertadores final between River Plate and Boca Juniors will be played at Real Madrid’s stadium on Dec. 9, Argentine and Spanish media reported on Thursday.

Argentina’s two biggest teams drew the first leg 2-2 at Boca’s ground and were due to play the second match in South America’s equivalent of the Champions League final at River’s Monumental stadium on Nov. 24.

However, Boca’s players were hurt when River fans attacked their coach as it approached the stadium and the game was first delayed until Sunday and then postponed indefinitely. The violence was an embarrassment for Argentina just days before this weekend’s G20 summit in Buenos Aires.

The final decision on staging the game in Madrid is dependent on another ruling by a Disciplinary Tribunal, which is hearing Boca’s appeal to be granted a victory because of the violence.

The choice of the Santiago Bernabeu as host venue was taken after CONMEBOL said the match could not take place in Argentina due to fears of more fan violence. Qatar, Miami, and stadiums in Brazil and Colombia were among those who offered to stage the game, the biggest in the Libertadores’s 58-year history.

But Spain’s position as a footballing hotbed with excellent flight connections to Latin America swung the decision in Madrid’s favor.

The Libertadores winners will represent CONMEBOL in the Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates days later. The tournament kicks off on Dec. 12 with the South American team due to play their first match on Dec. 18. European champions Real Madrid are among the clubs taking part.

“According to sources close to negotiations, the agreement is 90 percent closed and all parties hope to be able to announce it Thursday afternoon,” the daily El Pais said of Madrid being picked as the place where the final would be held.

The newspaper added that Spain’s football federation (RFEF) and Real Madrid had given the green light to the event.

Sports daily As said it could instead take place on Dec. 9 at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium at 8.30 p.m. local time (1930 GMT). Boca Junior and River Plate both have games scheduled that weekend in the Argentine league.

The daily El Mundo also reported the final could take place at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium, used to hosting the “clasico” clashes between arch-rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona, which this time would turn into the River-Boca “superclasico.”

But El Mundo pointed out that this second leg final depends on a decision of Conmebol’s disciplinary commission.

The clash between the two Buenos Aires clubs was due to be the last Libertadores final played over two legs. Earlier this year, Conmebol decided to adopt a single-match format from next season when the final will be in Santiago, Chile.

Madrid is set to host another prestigious final this season — that of the Champions League in June, at Atletico’s Metropolitano stadium. — Agencies.

Saudi gazette

Hassan Usman Author

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