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River President Blasts Boca Chief Over Final 'Betrayal'

"We signed a document and we shook hands. Then I find out he's petitioned Conmebol and asked for them to be declared champions."


Updated:November 27, 2018, 1:46 AM IST
River President Blasts Boca Chief Over Final 'Betrayal'

River Plate president Rodolfo D'Onofrio hit out at his Boca Juniors counterpart on Monday accusing his rival of "betrayal" following the postponement of the weekend's Copa Libertadores final due to an attack on the Boca team bus by River fans.

In a humiliating weekend for South American football, the second leg of the final was postponed twice amid scenes of violence and confusion.

The match had been scheduled for Saturday but the two presidents agreed to delay the continental showpiece by 24 hours after some Boca players suffered cuts from broken glass and the effects of smoke inhalation when their bus came under fire from River fans throwing sticks and stones and spraying pepper spray.

Yet the game did not take place on Sunday either as Boca said they faced a "sporting disadvantage" due to their players' injuries and Boca president Daniel Angelici said he would petition competition organziers Conmebol to award the tie, and hence the trophy, to Boca.

"I'm struggling to believe he cannot keep his promise," D'Onofrio fumed on Radio Mitre.

"We signed a document and we shook hands. Then I find out he's petitioned Conmebol and asked for them to be declared champions."

Speaking on Sunday, Angelici revealed he was lodging a challenge with Conmebol's independent disciplinary commission.

"Matches are won and lost on the pitch, that's my personal perspective, but I have a responsibility as club president and that's why I have to stick to the statute," Angelici said at a press conference.

He was referring to Conmebol's Article 18 which includes provisions for a number of possible punishments, including the forfeiture of a result.

It was the same article South American football's governing body used three years ago to kick out Boca after one of their fans attacked River players with pepper spray at half-time of a Copa Libertadores quarter-final.

River went on to lift the trophy that year.

"There's no chance they will award the match to Boca. If it was the case, it would be totally shameful, one of the worst betrayals someone could commit," said D'Onofrio.

The River plate president insisted that it was only because of his support for Boca's request to have the match postponed on Saturday that it was not played there and then.

Two Boca players were taken to hospital following the bus attack, which happened in the streets near to River's Monumental stadium in the upmarket Nunes neighborhood of Buenos Aires. River fans were able to attack the bus despite it having a police escort.

"Is it River's fault that the security failed?" said D'Onofrio.

The major difference between the attack by Boca fans three years ago and this one is that it took place within the club's iconic Bombonera stadium, where the team is ultimately responsible for player safety.

Saturday's incident happened in the street where security for Boca's bus was the responsibility of the police.

The two presidents are due to meet with Conmebol chief Alejandro Dominguez on Tuesday to agree on a new date for the final second leg tie.

Dominguez had praised the two men on Saturday for coming to "a gentleman's agreement" to delay the match for 24 hours.

The first leg two weeks ago, which was delayed 24 hours after a deluge left the Bombonera turf waterlogged, finished 2-2.

From next year, the Copa Libertadores final will be contested in a one-off match at a neutral venue.

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| Edited by: Hardik Worah
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