Soccer

This is why the Copa Libertadores final between Argentine rivals may be moved to Miami

Peru fans “warm up” the night before friendly against Croatia

Fans of the Peru national soccer team had a street party the night before their team's match against Croatia on March 23, 2018.
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Fans of the Peru national soccer team had a street party the night before their team's match against Croatia on March 23, 2018.

The highly-anticipated Copa Libertadores final match, twice postponed after River Plate fans attacked the bus of Argentine archrivals Boca Juniors last Saturday, is expected to be moved to a neutral site outside Argentina and played either Dec. 8 or 9.

Miami and Asuncion, Paraguay, are being considered. Officials for Relevent Sports, which has hosted many big international matches at Hard Rock Stadium, could not be reached for comment. Brazil, Colombia and Italy have also offered to host.

The likeliest venue would be in Asuncion, although Hard Rock offers more seating.

Paraguay borders Argentina, and CONMEBOL, the South American soccer federation, is headquartered in Asuncion. CONMEBOL held a meeting among the involved parties on Tuesday to determine a new date and time for the matchup, which was being billed as “The Final to End All Finals”. The other option is to cancel the match altogether and punish River Plate by awarding the championship to Boca Juniors, which is what that club has requested.

The CONMEBOL Disciplinary Committee will decide by Thursday whether to ban River Plate or play the match.

The match was originally scheduled to be played last Saturday at River Plate’s Estadio Monumental, but rescheduled for 24 hours later following the bus attack. Boca players Pablo Perez and Gonzalo Lamardo were treated at a hospital following the incident. Perez’s eye was injured by shattered glass. Fans pelted the bus with rocks and sticks, smashing windows. Police used tear gas in an attempt to quell the violence, and some of the gas seeped into the bus, causing a few players to suffer smoke inhalation.

Boca Juniors requested that River be sanctioned, and that the game be played at a later date, saying that the teams would not be playing in equal conditions on Sunday because of the trauma to the Boca players.

Boca and River tied 2-2 in the first leg of the Copa Libertadores final two weeks ago. It is the first time the Argentine rivals face each other in the Libertadores final, which determines the top club team in South America.

The winner will be among the favorites to win the FIFA Club World Cup, which opens Dec. 12 in United Arab Emirates. One option for the Copa Libertadores final leg would be to play it in UAE the weekend of Dec. 9-10, with the winner staying for the Club World Cup.

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