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Copa Libertadores final delayed after rival fans attack Boca team bus

Copa Libertadores final delayed after rival fans attack Boca team bus
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Boca Juniors are due to face bitter foes River Plate in the second leg.

An attack on the Boca Juniors bus by rival fans which left players suffering cuts from broken glass and feeling the effects of tear gas has led to the postponement of the second leg of their Copa Libertadores final at River Plate.

The match between the Buenos Aires rivals on Saturday evening was delayed twice after the Boca bus came under attack as it arrived at the stadium.

Television footage showed River supporters hurling objects at the bus as it made its way to the El Monumental ground.

According to reports in Argentina, Boca players were injured by flying shards of glass from broken windows and were also taken ill due to the effects of tear gas used by the police to disperse the crowds.

— Sebastián Lisiecki (@sebalisiecki) November 24, 2018

A number of players, including Boca’s former Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez, were reportedly suffering from dizziness and vomiting and being treated by club doctors. Footage apparently from inside the Boca dressing room showed the players groggy and disorientated.

Reports said Boca’s Pablo Perez and Gonzalo Lamardo had been taken by ambulance to hospital, the former with slivers of broken glass in his eyes and the latter a cut on his head.

The bus driver, meanwhile, was reportedly knocked unconscious after being hit by a rock.

CONMEBOL, the South American Football Confederation, initially postponed the match by an hour to 1800 local time (2100GMT) as a result of the violence, but has now announced on Twitter it has been put back until 1915 (2215GMT).

The final is finely poised at 2-2 after the first leg two weeks ago.

The club, not surprisingly, have urged CONMEBOL to call off the match.

General secretary Christian Gribaudo was quoted as saying by the website of Argentinian newspaper Clarin: “The players are all injured, you can’t play likes this.”

Former Argentina striker Gabriel Batistuta branded the scenes “shameful”, saying on Twitter: “Another opportunity lost in front of the whole world that observes us, shameful, lamentable.”

River Plate fans ahead of their delayed match against Boca Juniors (Sebastian Pani/AP).
River Plate fans ahead of their delayed match against Boca Juniors (Sebastian Pani/AP).

Several publications carried a statement reportedly from the CONMEBOL medical department saying there was no reason from a medical point of view to suspend the match.

Tevez claimed Boca were being forced to play the match against their will.

He was quoted as saying by www.tycsports.com: “We want to tell our families that we are OK because we are incommunicado in the dressing room.

Former Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez was one of those affected by the attack on the Boca bus (Martin Rickett/PA).
Former Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez was one of those affected by the attack on the Boca bus (Martin Rickett/PA).

“We are not in condition, they are forcing us to play the game. Pablo just arrived with a patch on his eye and that is why we are waiting.”

Describing the effects of the tear gas, he said: “The feeling of vomiting grabbed me, my throat burned, it’s only now that my headache is going away. We have three team-mates who are not physically well, you can not believe what is happening.”

Boca’s former Real Madrid midfielder Fernando Gago also expressed his unhappiness that the game looked set to go ahead, saying: “I can not believe it, I was very surprised. Many players suffered, I had an allergic reaction and there were players who had a hard time breathing.

“We have no choice. If we have to play, we are going to play.”

Saturday’s violence came three years after the second leg of a Copa Libertadores last-16 tie between Boca and River was abandoned at half-time after Boca fans attacked the River players with pepper spray as they returned to the pitch after the interval. Boca were disqualified from the competition.

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