River Plate balks at Copa Lib­er­ta­dores re­lo­ca­tion

Miami Herald (Sunday) - - Sports -

Plans to com­plete the vi­o­lence-de­layed Copa Lib­er­ta­dores fi­nal in Madrid were thrown into dis­ar­ray Sat­ur­day when River Plate re­fused to ac­cept the fix­ture against Boca Ju­niors be­ing moved from Ar­gentina.

“Spec­ta­tors are now de­nied — un­jus­ti­fi­ably — the pos­si­bil­ity of wit­ness­ing the spec­ta­cle,” River said in a state­ment, high­light­ing the cost for fans.

River was al­ready an­gry about be­ing fined $400,000 and or­dered to play the next two CONMEBOL games be­hind closed doors af­ter its fans at­tacked the Boca Ju­niors team bus head­ing into its Buenos Aires sta­dium for the meet­ing of Ar­gentina’s fiercest soc­cer ri­vals last Sat­ur­day.

CONMEBOL made an aborted at­tempt to play the sec­ond leg of the fi­nal the next day and de­cided Thurs­day that it had to in­stead be staged Dec. 9 in Spain at Real Madrid’s sta­dium for se­cu­rity rea­sons.

“Ar­gen­tine foot­ball as a whole and the Ar­gen­tine Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion can­not and should not al­low a hand­ful of vi­o­lent ones to im­pede the devel­op­ment of the su­per­cla­sico in our coun­try,” River said.

River in­sists it should not be held re­spon­si­ble for the at­tack that left Boca play­ers in­jured, say­ing it hap­pened out­side the se­cu­rity perime­ter placed around its Mon­u­men­tal de Nunez Sta­dium. FIFA Pres­i­dent Gianni In­fantino crit­i­cized the con­duct of Ar­gen­tine fans a week af­ter at­tend­ing the twice-post­poned game.

“Un­for­tu­nately there are id­iots around the world that ruin the party for mil­lions of peo­ple and we have to re­move them,” In­fantino said. “Foot­ball cre­ates and gen­er­ates a lot of emo­tions. But it is a foot­ball match. It is not a war. It is not even a bat­tle. It’s not even a fight. It is a match. And what hap­pened is no ex­cuse and has to be con­demned.”

World soc­cer’s gov­ern­ing body ap­proved CONMEBOL shift­ing the fi­nal to Spain.

“Not to play the game is al­ways a de­feat,” In­fantino said. “The only way to go ahead is to play the game in Spain.”

But In­fantino por­trayed it as a one-off de­ci­sion be­cause of the se­cu­rity prob­lems, rather than be­ing the green light for other com­pet­i­tive games to be moved from their nat­u­ral lo­ca­tion. It comes as the Span­ish league is be­ing blocked by its fed­er­a­tion from mov­ing the La Liga game be­tween Barcelona and Girona to Mi­ami in Jan­uary.

“It is an ex­cep­tional case,” In­fantino said of the Lib­er­ta­dores move. “For the rest, foot­ball is based on na­tional as­so­ci­a­tions who play their foot­ball in their coun­tries; con­ti­nen­tal con­fed­er­a­tions who play their com­pe­ti­tions in their con­ti­nent; and then FIFA who can play its com­pe­ti­tions every­where.”

Else­where: Manch­esA ter United came back to draw 2-2 at Southamp­ton, where United had trailed 2-0 af­ter 20 min­utes. United is 16 points be­hind first­place Manch­ester City, which beat Bournemouth 3-1. …

Lyon ral­lied from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at Lille to stay in sec­ond place in the French league, with its un­beaten run at nine in all com­pe­ti­tions. …

Borus­sia Dort­mund stretched its Bun­desliga lead with a 2-0 win over Freiburg, and Bay­ern Mu­nich kept pace with a 2-1 win at Werder Bre­men. …

Ju­ven­tus ex­tended its lead in Italy’s Serie A to 11 points af­ter beat­ing Fiorentina 3-0. Ro­drigo Ben­tan­cur and Gior­gio Chiellini scored and Cris­tiano Ron­aldo added a late penalty to hand Fiorentina its first de­feat of the sea­son. …

In Spain, Iago As­pas scored a goal in each half as Celta Vigo beat last­place Huesca 2-0 to end a four-match win­less streak in all com­pe­ti­tions. …

Nige­ria won its 11th ti­tle in 13 edi­tions of the Women’s African Cup of Na­tions by beat­ing South Africa in a penalty shootout in the fi­nal. The game ended 0-0 af­ter 120 min­utes and al­though Nige­ria missed its first penalty kick, South Africa missed twice and the Nige­ri­ans pre­vailed 4-3.

ETC.

Win­ter sports: Ger

A many’s Natalie Geisen­berger is still per­fect in this World Cup luge sea­son. And Emily Sweeney de­liv­ered the first U.S. medal of the year.

Geisen­berger im­proved to 3 for 3 on the young sea­son, with the reign­ing Olympic cham­pion win­ning the women’s race at the World Cup stop in Whistler, Bri­tish Columbia, on Sat­ur­day. Ger­many’s Ju­lia Taub­itz won the sil­ver, and Sweeney held on for third in her first race of the sea­son. ...

Max Franz of Aus­tria con­quered the snow and fog Sat­ur­day for his first World Cup su­per-G vic­tory. Rac­ing at Beaver Creek, Colo., was de­layed an hour as course work­ers cleared a con­sid­er­able amount of snow from the track. Franz fin­ished in 1 minute, 1.91 sec­onds, hold­ing off Mauro Caviezel of Switzer­land by 0.33 sec­onds. There was a three-way tie for third among Nor­we­gian team­mates Ak­sel Lund Svin­dal and Alek­sander Aamodt Kilde and Italy’s Do­minik Paris.

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