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CONMEBOL Libertadores

Copa Libertadores final moved to Lima amid continuing Santiago protests

02:38 GMT+3 06/11/2019
Jogadores do River Plate levantam a taça após a vitória sobre o Boca na final da Conmebol Libertadores de 2018
Tensions in Chile show no sign of quelling after almost two weeks of conflict, leading CONMEBOL to relocate its showpiece fixture

The first-ever single Copa Libertadores final has suffered a last-minute venue change and will now be played in Lima, Peru, CONMEBOL confirmed on Tuesday.  

Santiago had been previously slated as the site for the clash, which will take place on November 23 between River Plate of Argentina and Brazilian giants Flamengo. 

But the Chilean capital has been at the forefront of anti-government protests for the last two weeks which have provoked violent reactions from security forces, with the death toll nationwide estimated at well over double figures. 

CONMEBOL had previously underlined its intention to keep the final in Chile despite the upheaval, which has caused football in the country to come to a standstill due to security concerns. 

Public opinion turned sharply against hosting the game at such a sensitive time, however, reaching a head on Monday when 'Barra brava' hooligans from Santiago's biggest three clubs, Universidad de Chile, Colo Colo and Universidad Catolica, formed an unprecedented alliance and vowed to march on the Estadio Nacional to disrupt proceedings on the day of the final. 

The governing body subsequently called an emergency meeting involving representatives from both finalists, and confirmed late on Tuesday that Lima would take over hosting duties. 

"New circumstances of force majeur and public order, analysed and evaluated with care, considering the safety of players, fans and delegations, have motivated the decision to take the final of the Copa Libertadores to Lima, Peru and maintain the date of November 23," CONMEBOL signalled in a statement published on its official website. 

"The choice of the new stage is based on an offer from the government of Peru and on the safety guarantees it has given.  

"The decision was agreed upon with the presidents of Flamengo and River and the associations of Argentina, Brazil and Chile and is also based on the policy of holding each of the single finals in different countries. 

"CONMEBOL is grateful to the government of Chile for its active collaboration that different public bodies offered to organise the 2019 Libertadores single final. We wish the Chilean people and its authorities peace and goodwill."

The Libertadores final is the second such match to suffer a change of venue in 2019, the first year in which CONMEBOL has altered the long-standing previous format of holding two-legged deciders, one in each finalist's home stadium. 

Curiously, earlier this year Lima was deemed an unfit stage for the Copa Sudamericana,  South America's secondary cup competition, with organisers citing "organisational difficulties" in their decision to move that game - to be played on November 9 between Colon and Independiente del Valle - to Asuncion, Paraguay.  

Now the authorities, teams and fans alike will have just over two weeks to adapt to the new venue for the final, which is expected to be held in the Estadio Monumental due to the use of Lima's Estadio Nacional the same day for a national salsa extravaganza.