Boca Juniors' Team Bus Attacked by Fans; Tear Gas from Police Injured Players

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistNovember 24, 2018

Picture released by Telam showing the Boca Juniors team bus leaving their hotel on the way to the Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires, on November 24, 2018 to play the second leg match of the all-Argentine Copa Libertadores final against River Plate, before it was attacked y River fans. - The attack left Boca players coughing and teary eyed amid the glass of smashed windows ahead of the Argentine giants' 'superclasico' Copa Libertadores final, which authorities are deciding if it is played or not. (Photo by José ROMERO / TELAM / AFP) / Argentina OUT / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO / TELAM / JOSE ROMERO' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS        (Photo credit should read JOSE ROMERO/AFP/Getty Images)
JOSE ROMERO/Getty Images

The second leg of the 2018 Copa Libertadores final between River Plate and Boca Juniors was eventually postponed until Sunday, November 25, after being delayed for over two hours following an attack on Boca's team bus before the originally scheduled kick-off on Saturday.

Goal's Daniel Edwards provided details of the update:

Daniel Edwards 💚 @DanEdwardsGoal

SUSPENDED. Finally common sense has prevailed. River-Boca will be played tomorrow at 5pm.

A lengthy delay and much deliberation were finally ended with the decision to postpone after players were left injured following the incident which took place as the Boca coach approached River Plate's Stadium, per BBC Sport.

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

The second leg of the Copa Libertadores final between Boca Juniors and River Plate has been pushed back "at least one hour." https://t.co/EklqeXaco4

Players, including former Juventus striker Carlos Tevez and ex-Real Madrid midfielder Fernando Gago, earlier spoke out against the initial decision to play after the violence, a call reportedly made amid pressure on the two teams from FIFA and CONMEBOL:

Juan G. Arango 🇨🇴 🇮🇹 @JuanG_Arango

Tevez: "This is a social problem. I think that is the reason, more than anything else, as to why they want to play this match. That goes beyond the condition we as a team found ourselves in right now."

Miguel Delaney @MiguelDelaney

Fernando Gago: “The presidents of Conmebol and Fifa are who want us to play.”

"We are not in condition to play" Carlos Tevez told Tyc Sports, per Peter Coates of Golazoargentino.com. "They're forcing us to play the game."

The trouble occurred almost an hour before the match was originally scheduled to start when River Plate supporters attacked the bus, leading to governing body CONMEBOL's decision to postpone the kick-off. Police responded with tear gas that "drifted into the Boca team bus," per Reuters (h/t ESPN FC).

Boca secretary general Christian Gribaudo told Clarin (h/t Reuters) "The players are all hurt, you can't play this way." Clarin also reported that six players had vomited after being exposed to the gas.

Missiles were thrown and windows broken as some players were left with cuts from the damage. Marca Claro Argentina (h/t Sports Illustrated) relayed footage showing the extent of the damage:

Sports Illustrated @SInow

The view from inside the Boca Juniors bus after it was attacked on its way to the Superclásico in Buenos Aires (via @MARCAClaroARG) https://t.co/FdAzGmWOLF

Midfielders Pablo Perez and Gonzalo Lamardo were among the members of Boca's squad left hurt:

Diego Montalvan @DMontalvan

This is how Pablo Pérez and Gonzalo Lamardo are at the moment. No condition to play a final! #CopaLibertadores #RivervsBoca https://t.co/oWrsowQpHp

Gribaudo's sentiments about postponing the game to another day were been echoed by the other side:

Miguel Delaney @MiguelDelaney

River manager Gallardo doesn’t think conditions are right for game to go ahead. Some talk could now be behind closed doors Wed, but some in Conmebol and broadcasters want it today. What a situation.

Boca seemed to have little choice, though, according to Argentinian journalist Juan Arango (h/t the Mirror), who reported the club faced pressure from FIFA to let the game go ahead.

FIFA chief Gianni Infantino is said to have told Boca president Daniel Angelici his team will be disqualified if they refuse to take to the pitch.

Despite the protests, the decision to delay the game for later in the day was met warmly by those in the stands:

Jonathan Wilson @jonawils

Announcement over public address says one hour delay. Huge cheers.

Trouble between Boca and River has been frequent during their bitter rivalry. Players have been at risk, and ESPN recounted how some Boca supporters used pepper spray to attack River players in the same tournament back in 2015.

Not even safety measures put in place for this final have made a difference:

Peter Coates @golazoargentino

Worth mentioning that this is without away fans, remember when President Macri said this was a good time to allow visiting fans.

Boca were banned from the competition after the pepper-spray incident three years ago, but the punishment has failed to deter further violence.

This latest incident will sadly overshadow a showpiece final perfectly poised after River drew 2-2 in Boca in the first leg 13 days ago. Boca haven't won this trophy since 2007, while River used a bye into the last eight to help win in 2015.