Copa Libertadores final postponed due to attack on team bus, players

River Plate will host Boca Juniors for the second leg of what has already proved to be a historic Copa Libertadores final on Saturday evening and neither team can afford to lose.

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"They attacked us from everywhere", said Boca captain Pablo Perez, who was taken to a local hospital for treatment before returning to the ground.

River were given a bye into the quarter-finals and Boca were kicked out the competition.

Met by a barrage of River Plate fans, the Boca Juniors bus was pelted with missiles and, crucially, tear gas. The bus was then subjected to a hail of objects, which succeeded in breaking at least three windows.

In a further development, Cesar Luis Merlo, a South American journalist, revealed what appeared to be an official document, signed by a CONMEBOL doctor to say that the injuries to the Boca players are "superficial" and "from the medical point of view there is no reason to suspend the game".

Image: Boca striker Carlos Tevez suffered the effects of pepper spray inhalation.

A riot policeman fires his gun after the match was postponed
A riot policeman fires his gun after the match was postponed

"They're forcing us to play this game under these conditions where we have teammates who are not well", Tevez told reporters outside the locker rooms.

Boca eventually agreed to play, but kick-off was delayed by two and three-quarter hours and it was clear they were playing under protest.

Boca fans gathered in numbers to wave their players off to the other side of the city, but the reception was nowhere near as friendly on their arrival.

There were unconfirmed reports of six Boca players vomiting due to pepper spray inhalation - with claims it was River fans, not the police, who used the gas. On that occasion, River were awarded the game. "We can't play like this".

Tevez was interviewed by a local television station and said: "We are not in a position to play the game".

The showdown will now take place from 9pm GMT after River Plate fans caused chaos in Argentina. Argentine football has been shamed, tainted nearly beyond fix, and it is hard to see any improvement possible with such criminal incompetence reigning among those entrusted with the organisation and safety of the sport. But it is little solace to the supporters who eagerly awaited this showpiece final, in many cases spending thousands of dollars and travelling vast distances to see the action.

  • Rosalie Stanley