Buenos Aires Avoids Disaster, Postpones Superclásico Copa Final After Bus Attack

The second leg of the Copa Libertadores final was postponed a day after the Boca Juniors bus was attacked by rocks and pepper spray.

For the second time in two weeks, the Copa Libertadores final will be postponed a day. 

The two-legged final pits Buenos Aires archrivals Boca Juniors and River Plate against each other in the climax of the biggest tournament in the Western Hemisphere. The first match ended in a 2-2 draw at Boca’s La Bombonera a day after it was originally scheduled due to torrential rain. The second leg was slated for Saturday, but wild scenes outside River’s Estadio Monumental forced CONMEBOL to postpone the match — eventually.

While postponing a match is never an easy decision, it’s one that honestly should’ve been made earlier given the events that unfolded in Buenos Aires. The match was twice pushed back before ultimately being postponed a day. 

As Boca players traveled to El Monumental for the second leg, stones were thrown at the windows of the team bus. With the windows open, tear gas seeped into the bus. The driver passed out and as many as six players had to be treated for injuries and vomiting. The scenes were terrifying, as we highlighted here.

And yet, for whatever reasons, CONMEBOL was adamant the match would be played on Saturday, with a CONMEBOL doctor saying the players only received “superficial” injuries and should be able to play.

Some reports suggested FIFA president Gianni Infantino, who was on hand, compelled them to play the game for the sake of the TV commitments while others had their own theories.

Before the match, Carlos Tevez said the players were in no shape to play, but they were being forced to play against their will. Then, not long after the second delayed start time, the match was officially postponed until Sunday.

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The Copa Libertadores final second leg now will be played back at El Monumental at 5:15 p.m. ET (7:15 p.m. local time) on Sunday. (Here’s how to watch it.)

Initial reports suggested River Plate players joined Boca in refusing to play. While we can’t confirm that, such a gesture would be a small piece of sanity on an insane day in Buenos Aires.

The Copa Libertadores final between two of the biggest rivals in the world (read why here) had set the stage for a wild climax to South America’s biggest club competition.

But after the Boca bus was attacked, scenes outside the stadium only grew worse.

Eventually, common sense prevailed and the match was postponed, avoiding what could have been catastrophic riots.

Had River Plate won, Boca fans might've taken to the streets to protest. Had Boca won, River fans might have made it impossible for the team to leave the stadium.

Not that it made for a good ending on Saturday.

Now, we’ll doing it all again Sunday. Let’s hope everyone behaves. 

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