Dream match turns into nightmare
Much-heralded River Plate-Boca second-leg final called off after fan attack on bus
Pandemonium reigned at the second leg of the Copa Libertadores final yesterday morning (Singapore time), causing the match to be postponed.
As the Boca Juniors' bus was reaching River Plate's Monumental Stadium, it was pelted with stones and projectiles, causing players to be hurt by the shattered glass.
Local media reported some players were exposed to tear gas after police clashed with the River fans. Argentine news website Clarin said six players had vomited in the dressing room.
"They were throwing pepper gas, stones, everything," Clarin quoted Juan Carlos Crespi, a member of the Boca delegation, as saying.
Photos showed Boca captain Pablo Perez with his eye bandaged after being taken to hospital and other players suffered cuts to the face, arms, legs and chest.
The all-Buenos Aires clash, the first time Argentina's two top clubs had met for the South American equivalent of Europe's Champions League, was billed as the greatest final in the competition's 58-year history.
"We're in no condition (to play). They are forcing us to play the game."Boca Juniors forward Carlos Tevez told reporters shortly before the match was postponed
But it will instead be remembered for the violence that left players bleeding and almost all the windows on one side of the Boca bus shattered.
South American football's governing body (Conmebol) twice rescheduled the kick-off in the hope of getting the game played, but with a capacity 62,000 crowd waiting for the players to emerge, they eventually decided to postpone the final.
"One can't play in these conditions," said Conmebol president Alejandro Dominguez.
The match was rescheduled for this morning (Singapore time). However, city government yesterday ordered River Plate's stadium closed for exceeding capacity limits and failing to keep exits clear, casting doubt on whether the second leg will go ahead.
Ricardo Pedace, head of the government's safety agency, told local television they were taking steps to determine whether the game could be played.
"I have asked the inspectors to act quickly, to make it possible for the game to be played," he said.
Conmebol did not make an official statement about the postponement. There was also no information on whether fans who had tickets for the game would get access for the rescheduled match, or whether Conmebol would begin proceedings to punish River for the violence.
The decision to reschedule the game was taken more than two hours after the original start time. Boca players were angry that officials had even tried to get the game underway.
"We're in no condition (to play)," Boca forward Carlos Tevez told reporters shortly before the match was postponed. "They are forcing us to play the game."
The first leg at Boca's ground on Nov 11 ended 2-2 and the second leg was taking place at River's home in front of their own fans. Away supporters are banned from football matches in Argentina due to recurring violence at the grounds. - REUTERS