The second leg of the 2018 Copa Libertadores final between River Plate and Boca Juniors was again postponed until further notice after an attack on team Boca team bus left several players injured just hours before the match.
The decisive leg was originally scheduled to be played on Saturday but was held back until Sunday when River Plate fans created chaotic scenes outside their Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires. But just three hours before the rescheduled kick-off on Sunday, the South American football confederation confirmed that the match would be suspended until further notice.
“We don’t want there to be any excuses that conditions were not equal for both teams,” Alejandro Dominguez, the president of the South American soccer confederation CONMEBOL, was quoted as saying by The Hindustan Times. “We want both teams to have time to recover.”
Reports also claim that Boca Juniors management complained that the match could not be played under fair conditions with two of their players suffering head and eye injuries.
Boca skipper Pablo Perez and midfielder Gonzalo Lamardo were rushed to the hospital and while Perez had injured his arm and left eye following the attack on the team bus Lamardo also suffered an eye injury and faced breathing problems because of the tear gas used by the police to chase away the fans.
“This is a disgrace that we’re talking about a situation like this, because of a few misfits, for what is a game of football,” said Dominguez, reports The Independent. “This is not football. It’s not what any of us want. Football is the opposite. It is athletes, players, professionals, that live, work, give good examples on and off the pitch, that have families, responsibilities, and live the football that makes us all so passionate.
“There is a team who have been injured, and we are here for the good of the spectacle so that when the starting of XI of both clubs enter the field, they go without any excuse, that match is played on a level playing field.
“The organisation is going to be self-critical, but everyone has to be self-critical. It’s not a situation where we can look elsewhere for faults. The intolerance, the violence, we cannot leave these aside and take responsibility for.
It’s not just his [Perez’s] medical condition. There were four or five other players. I think in these conditions, this is all logical. That’s what’s critical.”
Earlier, the Boca Juniors club had appealed to the governing body for the second leg to be called off, saying that the game could not take place under conditions as these.
“Boca considers that [equal] conditions have not been established and asks for the game to be suspended and sanctions applied,” the club had said in a statement reports the UK based newspaper.
The match between two of Argentina’s biggest rivals was billed to be final of all finals, one that will establish the supremacy of the biggest club in the South American country. The game was touted to be the most significant game in football’s history.
Both the clubs were also meeting for the first time at the summit clash in the competition’s 58-year-old history. But now instead it will be remembered for the shattered bus windows and bleeding players that killed the game even before it could kick-off.