Lib­er­ta­dores fan vi­o­lence has dam­aged Ar­gentina, says Boca coach

Gulf Times Sport - - FOOTBALL -

Fan vi­o­lence sur­round­ing the Copa Lib­er­ta­dores fi­nal has dam­aged Ar­gentina and South Amer­ica and over­shad­owed the achieve­ments of Ar­gen­tine foot­ball, Boca Ju­niors coach Guillermo Bar­ros Sch­e­lotto said yesterday.

Boca and fierce Ar­gen­tine ri­vals River Plate will play each other in Madrid to­mor­row in the sec­ond leg of the fi­nal of the Lib­er­ta­dores, South Amer­ica’s equiv­a­lent of the Cham­pi­ons League. River drew 2-2 with arch-ri­vals Boca in the first leg on Nov 11 but the re­turn has been moved from Buenos Aires to Spain af­ter Boca play­ers were in­jured when fans at­tacked their team coach shortly be­fore the match at River’s Mon­u­men­tal sta­dium on Nov 24.

With Madrid po­lice mount­ing the big­gest ever se­cu­rity op­er­a­tion for a foot­ball game in the city, at­ten­tion has turned to the risk of vi­o­lence be­tween the two bit­ter Ar­gen­tine ri­vals, with the match it­self tak­ing a back seat. “To­day we should be talk­ing about how River and Boca are putting Ar­gentina on the high­est pedestal pos­si­ble and in­stead we are talk­ing about vi­o­lence in­stead of what the teams have achieved this sea­son,” Sch­e­lotto said yesterday. “Un­for­tu­nately, we haven’t learned from the same er­rors we have made be­fore and we have ended up dam­ag­ing Ar­gentina and South Amer­ica.”

The at­tack on Boca’s bus last month was far from an iso­lated in­ci­dent in Ar­gen­tine foot­ball, and re­called events from a 2015 Lib­er­ta­dores game be­tween the two sides when River play­ers were at­tacked with pep­per spray. Ar­gen­tine cam­paign group ‘Sal­va­mos Al Fut­bol’ (Save Foot­ball) says that a to­tal of 328 peo­ple have died at foot­ball matches and 92 of those deaths have oc­curred in the last decade.

Sch­e­lotto said the fact that the game had to be moved to Europe should serve as a turn­ing point in the fight to halt foot­ball vi­o­lence. “What hap­pened two weeks ago hap­pens a lot in Ar­gentina and South Amer­ica but I think it will have to change be­cause if you can­not play Boca ver­sus River in Ar­gentina it’s very wor­ry­ing,” said Sch­e­lotto, who won four Lib­er­ta­dores ti­tles with Boca as a player.

“It’s the right time to take mea­sures and start to show an ex­am­ple. We need time, we need games of this qual­ity to be played in Ar­gentina or South Amer­ica and to show that we have ma­tured. It’s the time to take mea­sures and start to show an ex­am­ple.”

Mean­while, nearly 4,000 po­lice and pri­vate se­cu­rity guards will be de­ployed in Madrid for the “high-risk” Copa Lib­er­ta­dores fi­nal, the gov­ern­ment said Fri­day. More than 2,000 na­tional po­lice will de­ploy around the San­ti­ago-Bern­abeu sta­dium . That is more than for the last Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal in the 81,000-seat sta­dium in 2010 when na­tional po­lice de­ployed a 1,400-strong force.

It is also more than the 1,500 po­lice of­fi­cers de­ployed for the “cla­sico” game be­tween ri­vals Real Madrid and Barcelona that took place un­der high se­cu­rity five days af­ter the 2015 Paris at­tacks. Apart from na­tional po­lice of­fi­cers, 1,700 pri­vate se­cu­rity guards will be used by Real Madrid, which owns the sta­dium.

Ro­driguez said some 200 to 300 “par­tic­u­larly violent” sup­port­ers from each team had been iden­ti­fied by Span­ish and Ar­gen­tinian au­thor­i­ties, but if was un­clear whether they were in Madrid or not. He added that sup­port­ers found to have a “se­ri­ous” crim­i­nal record could be sent straight back to Ar­gentina if they came to Madrid. Be­tween 5,500 and 6,000 out of 10,000 tick­ets for sup­port­ers liv­ing in Ar­gentina have been sold, Ro­driguez said.


Boca Ju­niors coach Guillermo Bar­ros Sch­e­lotto speaks at a press con­fer­ence.

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