Boca Juniors vs. River Plate Copa Libertadores final to be played outside Argentina

Aerial view of River Plate's Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires, before the all-Argentine Copa Libertadores second leg final match against Boca Juniors was postponed on November 25, 2018. (File/AFP)
Updated 27 November 2018
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Boca Juniors vs. River Plate Copa Libertadores final to be played outside Argentina

  • The original second-leg clash between the two Buenos Aires clubs at the weekend was postponed after Boca players were injured in an attack
  • The tie is delicately poised following a 2-2 draw at Boca’s Bombonera home just over two weeks ago

LONDON: South American football administrators Conmebol said on Tuesday that the postponed Copa Libertadores final second leg between fierce local rivals River Plate and Boca Juniors would be played outside Argentina.
Following a meeting with the two Argentine clubs’ presidents in Asuncion, Conmebol said the match, to take place on “December 8 or 9,” would be at an as yet undecided venue.
The original second-leg clash between the two Buenos Aires clubs at the weekend was postponed after Boca players were injured in an attack on their team bus by River fans with pepper spray, stones and sticks.
Conmebol president Alejandro Dominguez told reporters that “the final cannot be played in Argentina.”
A Conmebol statement moments earlier said that due to the weekend “violence... that put players, officials and fans at risk... it would not be prudent to play the final in” Argentina.
The tie is delicately poised following a 2-2 draw at Boca’s Bombonera home just over two weeks ago.
The second leg had to be postponed after Boca players suffered cuts from broken glass and from smoke inhalation when their bus was attacked by River fans on the way to the Monumental Stadium in the Argentine capital on Saturday.
It was originally postponed by 24 hours before Conmebol announced on Sunday that it was being suspended indefinitely ahead of Tuesday’s meeting at the body’s headquarters in the Paraguayan capital.
Boca’s president Daniel Angelici petitioned the continent’s governing body to award them the trophy, a move his River counterpart Rodolfo D’Onofrio branded “shameful.”
Some potential final venues have already expressed an interest in hosting the derby dubbed a “superclasico,” and the most important in Argentine club football history, as it pits the two most popular teams in the country in the continent’s most prestigious final.
The group that runs the Atletico Mineiro stadium in Brazilian city Belo Horizonte offered on Tuesday to host the match.
That came a day after the Italian city of Genoa cited cultural links between the city and Italian immigrants to Argentina in the early 20th century as it suggested the Marassi stadium as a potential venue.


Wonderkid Fati: from African suburb to Barcelona’s Camp Nou

Updated 25 min 15 sec ago

Wonderkid Fati: from African suburb to Barcelona’s Camp Nou

  • Fati scored just two minutes into his full La Liga debut on a magical night when he hardly put a foot wrong in front of over 80,000 astonished Camp Nou fans who gave him a standing ovation
  • In Sao Paulo, his home neighborhood in the rundown suburbs of capital Bissau, the children yell Ansu Fati, Barca player! as they run around on ochre soil, under the tropical trees

BISSAU: Ansu Fati has made a long trip from the fields of Guinea-Bissau, where he played as a child, to Barcelona’s Camp Nou stadium where the 16-year-old is playing with some of the biggest stars in the world.
Fati has made a stirring start to the season, scoring just two minutes into his full La Liga debut on a magical night when he hardly put a foot wrong in front of over 80,000 astonished Camp Nou fans who gave him a standing ovation as he left the field.
He was just seven years old when he first came to Spain and his startling talent meant he was invited to join Barcelona’s prestigious youth academy ‘La Masia’ aged 10.
It was an incredible achievement for a boy from the impoverished West African nation that has never been known for football.
In Sao Paulo, his home neighborhood in the rundown suburbs of capital Bissau, the children yell “Ansu Fati, Barca player!” as they run around on ochre soil, under the tropical trees.
Malam Romisio, who coached Fati as a child, told AFP how the boy used to play football wearing only socks or plastic sandals, easily dribbling the ball past bigger, stronger teammates.
When Fati made his debut with Barca’s first team at the end of August, the coach switched his allegiance from Real Madrid.
“If he continues like this, he will be a great player,” he predicted.
In Guinea Bissau, which is one of the world’s poorest and most fragile nations, Fati is a source of national pride.
Born on October 31, 2002, he lived in Bissau until he was six.
In the house where he grew up, Fati’s uncle Djibi Fati shows photos of the footballer as a child, dressed in traditional clothes, recalling how others used to tease him for his love of bread and butter.
“Every time he came back from playing football, he would ask for it,” he recalls.
When he was still very small, his father, Bori Fati, went to Portugal to look for work, later settling near Seville in southwestern Spain.
Bori picked olives, collected empty glasses in nightclubs and even helped build a high-speed rail track, recalls Amador Saavedra, who befriended him in Herrera, some 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of Malaga.
It was only when the Communist mayor of Marinaleda, a nearby town, hired Bori as a driver and helped him financially, that he managed to bring his young family over in 2009.
“It’s a very beautiful story,” said Saavedra, 53.
Bori ended up training his young son at the Peloteros football school, which is free for thousands of children in Herrera and the surrounding towns.
When Fati arrived he quickly caused a sensation on the football pitch, said Jordi Figaroa Moreno, his first Spanish coach.
“He had a gift,” he told AFP. “The difference between him and his teammates was just huge, both technically and tactically. Among the youngsters, it’s rare to find children who can play as a team, but he had everything.”
Jose Luis Perez Mena, who runs the Peloteros school, described Fati as “very spontaneous” and “very cheerful” as well as “extroverted, but very quiet.”
His stellar success “has not gone to his head.”
Within a year of arriving in Spain, Fati joined Sevilla. In 2012, at the age of 10, he was enrolled in Barcelona’s youth system.
“Ansu was one of the youngest players ever to have entered La Masia,” said Marc Serra, his first coach at Barcelona.
“From the day that he arrived he was different, the type of player who invents football.”
In August, the teenager became the youngest player to score for Barcelona in La Liga. This month he became the club’s youngest player in a Champions League match.
Spain’s national coach Robert Moreno described Fati’s debut for Barcelona as “mind-blowing.” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde spoke of him as a “balanced boy” who is “at ease with himself.”
“We want him to learn to know himself, to know the first division, so he sees that it is hard and how much work and dedication it will take to succeed,” he said.
Speaking to Spain’s Onda Cero radio last month, his proud father said he had taught Fati to “be respectful and happy with everyone.”
“Every day I tell him: ‘This is your job: when you have the ball, turn toward the goal, don’t look anywhere else, and just shoot.”