Monday 26th November 2018    

Myles Cutliffe – UCFB Sports Business & Broadcasting student 2018

On a sunny afternoon in an autumnal Buenos Aires, it was announced that the Copa Libertadores Final would be postponed until further notice for the second time in as many days. The world waited in anticipation as the initial twenty-four-hour rescheduling set a scene of dramatic effect, only for it to be painstakingly taken away again.

Boca were recovering from an attack on the team bus which left players shaken and disorientated. A police escort wasn’t enough to deter a crowd of River supporters from bombarding the Boca bus with missiles. Shattering of windows left various players with wounds – newfound ventilation meant that the tear gas used to disperse the River hooligans seeped onboard the coach. Pablo Perez was taken to hospital for treatment on his eye, jeopardising his midfield role in the starting eleven. Several other key players suffered from nausea and vomiting.

The theme of revenge echoed throughout. In 2015 it was River players who suffered from the effects of an airborne irritant – dispersed from a hooligan minority of Boca supporters who attacked the River players with pepper spray as they emerged from the tunnel at the start of the second half. This incident also occurred in the Libertadores, at the last 16 stage. Boca were subsequently disqualified. River went on to win the tournament.

After a tantalising first leg at La Bombonera, viewers around the world tuned in to watch the return fixture at the home of River. The all-Argentinian showpiece was to be the biggest final in Copa Libertadores history. Now though, it may never be played. Boca are calling for River to be disqualified. River want their slice of the cake in the form of an El Monumental showdown in front of a rampant crowd of seventy thousand plus. Nothing is certain.

Latin American football offers an abundance of passion and drama. Fanatical supporters celebrate football like a carnival. This makes for intense viewing and sensational atmospheres. For Boca and River to meet in the final like this is a real footballing gem which deserves to be celebrated and enjoyed on a worldwide scale. It seems though, that this spectacle may be too good to be true. What was meant to go down as one of the greatest finals in Copa Libertadores’ history, a glorification of Argentinian football, may now have the opposite effect.