South American football’s governing body CONMEBOL on Thursday confirmed that the twice-postponed Copa Libertadores final second leg between Argentine rivals River Plate and Boca Juniors will be played on December 9 at Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium.
Originally scheduled for last weekend at River’s Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires, it was postponed after some Boca players were injured when their team bus came under attack from their arch rivals’ fans.
Boca appealed to CONMEBOL’s independent disciplinary committee to be awarded the trophy and have River expelled from the competition, but that was also rejected on Thursday.
Instead, CONMEBOL hit River with a two-game stadium closure “that will be applied from 2019” in official continental competitions, and “a $400 000 fine.”
CONMEBOL president Alejandro Dominguez said that Real president Florentino Perez had offered use of the Bernabeu “for free.”
“Madrid is the city with the biggest Argentine population in the world, outside Argentina,” said Dominguez.
“It’s the 10th safest city in the world, it has the airport with the greatest connectivity, and it’s a city with a football tradition.”
He added that fans of both teams would be admitted to the Bernabeu, something that was not the case for the original clash.
Away fans have been barred from stadiums in Argentina since 2013 due to football-related violence that has seen more than 300 people killed in the last 50 years.
Dominguez had a message to the hooligans, known as barrabravas in Argentina, should they be thinking off attending the match.
“The ‘barras’ should not even dream of going. There is no place for them.
“I’m sure the message that the fans are going to send is what the world is waiting for: that the good guys are going to win this time.”
The Buenos Aires rivals drew their first leg in early November at Boca’s iconic Bombonera arena 2-2.
Both rivals have won the Copa Libertadores nine times between them. While Boca have won the title twice as many times, River held it aloft most recently, in 2015.