FIFA president Gianni Infantino has repeated his opposition to federations holding official matches outside of their home continent, though he defended the proposed Madrid-hosted Copa Libertadores final as an “exceptional situation.”
The second leg of the Superclasico between Boca Juniors and River Plate that made up the final was delayed and eventually postponed after River Plate fans attacked Boca’s team bus outside of the Millonarios’ home stadium.
Injuries to their players prompted Boca to demand the game be cancelled and Copa title be awarded to them, but while the game was postponed, CONMEBOL’s plan is to play it at the Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid.
Boca have objected to the plan, and have now been joined by River Plate in refusing to play in the proposed December 9 return leg.
CONMEBOL's decision seems to come into direct contradiction with the words of the FIFA president, who again voiced his opposition toward La Liga’s plans to playing Barcelona-Girona contest in Miami.
“Football is based on national associations who play their competitions in their countries and continental competitions who play on their continents and then FIFA who can play its competitions everywhere,” Infantino told reporters at a media conference during the G20 summit.
“This is one of the strengths of football we should protect.”
However, Infantino defended the decision to stage the Copa final in Madrid, citing the situation as “exceptional” and declaring it a bigger failure to not stage the contest at all.
“This is an exceptional situation,” added Infantino. “A game which already has a huge rivalry couldn’t be played.”
“Football must always carry on, to not play a game is always a defeat.”
The violence has led to some question over whether the joint three-nation bid between Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay for the centennial World Cup in 2030 might be in jeopardy.
But Infantino, who was at the the stadium for the second leg and expressed disappointment at its cancellation, claimed there is still plenty of time for questions to be answered.
Furthermore, Infantino noted these incidents have taken place across the world and are not limited to Argentina.
“The decision for the 2030 World Cup will be taken in around four years and there is a lot of time to work,” he said.
“It’s not the only game in the world where this has happened.....I remember a derby in Zurich where the match had to be stopped because of violence in the stadium.”
“I really wanted to see this Superclasico, a game that any supporter wants to see once their life...and I left very sad.”