The final of the Copa Libertadores, far from the eyes, far from the heart

Supporters of Boca Juniors in the streets of Madrid, December 8th.
Supporters of Boca Juniors in the streets of Madrid, December 8th. SUSANA VERA / REUTERS

Lastly, 10,000 kilometers from the Monumental Stadium in Buenos Aires, the final match of the Copa Libertadores final will be played on Sunday, December 9th, between River Plate and Boca Juniors. Madrid will welcome the meeting between the two great Argentine football rivals, two weeks after the violent incidents that have pushed the South American Confederation (Conmebol) to transfer the match out of Argentina. A decision that does not satisfy anyone but that makes some people of the Argentine diaspora happy.

River Plate and Boca Juniors received 25,000 tickets for their supporters, including 5,000 for those living in Argentina. However, not all of the 80,000 seats at the Bernabeu stadium will be occupied, as an empty area has been planned that separates the two groups of rival supporters.

Read also Argentinian football captured by his demons

"Madrid? It's a good destination because it allows me to go there"laughs Carlos Muguruza, 56, boss of the Pena (group of supporters of Boca Juniors) in Paris, created in July 2013 and officially recognized by the Argentine club.

Leaning on the counter of one of his three restaurants in Paris – Volver, a well-known Argentinian player from the PSG – man regularly consults his phone, which continues to ring. He will travel to Madrid with about fifty of his compatriots exiled in the French capital.

Others will come from the United States, Canada and Sweden, he says. The organization is part of the D System, each of which has obtained a place to meet with its own means, but everyone met in Madrid on Saturday morning.

Frustration in both fields

"We tried to get together to buy the seats together, but it was too complicated", its River Plate counterpart abounds, Christian Aaron, 40, head of reception in the hospitality industry, at the origin of a penalty on Paris, but this is not recognized by the club. " He was a friend in Spain who called me to tell me he had two extra seats. "

It will be accompanied by about fifteen compatriots. As for Boca Juniors, fans will come from Denmark, Morocco, Tunisia and the United States. The weekend will be around 500 euros. an amount "Accessible for a meeting of this importance, for someone living in Europe", He says. On the other hand, more complicated for supporters living in Argentina.

The latter will have to pay 3,600 pesos (84 euros), or about a quarter of the average salary in Argentina. Not to mention, of course, airfare and accommodation, neither the clubs nor the Conmebol have not chosen to help these supporters financially, for a trip whose total cost is estimated at 2,000 euros. As a result, only 6,000 of the 10,000 tickets put up for sale were sold, according to Agence France Presse.

What was presented as "the end of the century" is generating great frustration on both sides. Everyone feels offended. Supporters of Boca Juniors believe that River Plate should have lost this finish on the green carpet.

"What would have been right is that Conmebol gives the title to Boca, as they did for River in 2015 (Boca Juniors was then disqualified for incidents in the 16th round of the Libertadores Cup against the same River Plate club). But this club is protected because of the close ties between its leaders and some important members of the Conmebol ", Carlos Muguruza moves forward.

The Arbitration Court of Sport has rejected, on Saturday, the last Boca beach to be designated winner of this Copa Libertadores on the green carpet.

Final of "shame"

The supporters of River, they complain of not being able to play the final return in their lair of the Monumental, in front of 70,000 people: "The match was played in La Bombonera, with only Boca fans, the return match was played on another continent, with fans from both teams., laments Christian Aaron, who confesses it "The excitement is a bit down."

At the same time, the leaders and players of both teams also expressed their disapproval of competing in another continent this final of the "Shame", in the words of the president of the river Rodolfo D & Onofrio. "It's pathetic, passed Guillermo Barros Schelotto, coach Boca Juniors. Unfortunately, we do not learn from our mistakes, we repeat them continuously and the victim is the image of Argentinian and South American football. Today we should talk about how River and Boca have brought Argentinian football to the top (…) and we talk about violence ".

The choice of the Santiago Bernabeu stadium, in a country with a strong Argentine community (115,000 according to official figures) and in a city with close cultural ties with Buenos Aires, seems a minor evil for both societies, while Abu -Il Dhabi or even Paris had been a moment evoked to host this meeting.

The stadium in Madrid puts a bit of pepper in a meeting that was not lacking. "It's a mythical stadium, but for us it's like we're a little monumentalCarlos Muguruza lets himself be transported. Real Madrid is the team of Franco, River that of the generals. These are two clubs of the establishment. We feel closer to Barça in history and values. "

It would almost be forgotten, but the stakes remain. In case of victory, Boca Juniors would have matched the Argentine club Independiente with seven trophies in the Copa Libertadores. River Plate, for its part, could bridge the gap with its rival by winning a fourth crown.

A final under high surveillance

(AFP) – Triple cord security, 4000 mobilized agents: after the violence in Argentina, Madrid has urgently armored its device for the final return of the Copa Libertadores. More than 2,000 national police officers will be mobilized, the prefecture announced. In addition to the national police, 1700 private security agents will be mobilized by Real Madrid, the stadium owner, and 150 municipal police officers from the town hall. two "Fan Zone" will be established on the famous Avenue de la Castellana, on both sides of the stadium, and two seats will be reserved to celebrate the winner: the Puerta del Sol if River is the champion and the Colon place if Boca wins.

Maxime Goldbaum

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