Soccer

Miami out as potential Copa Libertadores site. Here’s who is likely to host final.

Opening of the Boca Juniors soccer clinic

Boca Juniors Soccer Club holds an official opening Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, for the soccer clinic at Patricia Mishcon Field in North Miami Beach. Video by Peter Andrew Bosch / Miami Herald staff
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Boca Juniors Soccer Club holds an official opening Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, for the soccer clinic at Patricia Mishcon Field in North Miami Beach. Video by Peter Andrew Bosch / Miami Herald staff

Miami was dropped from the list of potential hosts for the twice-postponed Copa Libertadores finale between Argentine giants River Plate and Boca Juniors, according to a source familiar with the negotiations to move the game to a neutral site after violence marred last weekend’s scheduled match.

The second leg of the Copa final was postponed and is expected to be played Dec. 8 or 9 at a site outside Argentina after River Plate fans attacked the bus of archrivals Boca Juniors last Saturday. Boca has asked CONMEBOL, the South American soccer federation, to disqualify River, cancel the match and award the title to Boca.

The CONMEBOL Disciplinary Committee will decide by Thursday whether to ban River Plate or play the match. Indications are the match will be played at a neutral site.

Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium was being considered as a potential site because of its size, history hosting marquee international matches, South Florida’s large Argentine and South American population and ease of travel to and from Argentina. Brazil, Colombia and Italy also offered to host, as did Doha, Qatar.

The likeliest site would be Asuncion, Paraguay.

Paraguay borders Argentina, and CONMEBOL 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 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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