OFFICIAL: The Bernabéu will host Copa Libertadores final return leg between Boca and River
An agreement was reached between CONMEBOL, the Spanish Football Federation, FIFA and Real Madrid this afternoon to host the return leg in Madrid.
An agreement was finally reached this afternoon and confirmed shortly after 23:00 hours CET: the return leg of the 2018 Copa Libertadores final between Boca Juniors and River Plate will take place at the Santiago Bernabéu on Sunday 9 December at 20:30 hours local time (CET). It means that both of the two major continental club finals this season will be played in Madrid (the Wanda Metropolitano will host the Champions League final in May). CONMEBOL, the Spanish Football Federation, FIFA and Real Madrid have all agreed that the Bernabéu should stage the return leg. The Spanish government approved the request shortly after a statement was due from CONMEBOL at 20:00 hours when Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez published a tweet to guarantee the safety of both sets of supporters. Three hours after an announcement was expected, CONMEBOL issued a statement to confirm the Bernabéu as the venue for the return leg and the date and kick-off time: Sunday 9th at 20:30 hours Central European Time. The Confederation also confirmed that River Plate have been served a 400.000 US dollar fine and a two-game stadium ban as punishment for the incidents which occurred ahead of the scheduled game at El Monumental which had to be postponed. Boca have seven days to mount an appeal against the decision.
Alternative venues rejected
FIFA turned to the RFEF this morning to help out the South American Confederation, who have been unable to reach an agreement with either Boca or River on finding a new venue for the return leg, which should have taken place at El Monumental in Buenos Aires last Saturday. After rejecting alternative citiess to host the game, including: Asunción, Doha and Miami, the idea for holding the Copa Libertadores final in Spain was raised. Following a series of phonecalls involving high-ranking officials - including Argentina president Mauricio Macri, Boca's ex-president, both clubs accepted the proposal to hold the game at Real Madrid's stadium, which is free that weekend as Santiago Solari's team are away at Huesca in LaLiga. The 81,000-seater Bernabéu was offered to FIFA by RFEF president Luis Rubiales and Florentino Pérez. The Bernabéu was the preferred choice for CONMEBOL for several reasons - such as the frequency of flights between the Spanish capital and Buenos Aires, the language and the large Argentinean expat community installed in Madrid and elsewhere in Spain.
Infantino to attend the final
CONMEBOL president Alejandro Domínguez thanked Rubiales for his mediating role while FIFA president Gianni Infantino has confirmed that he will be flying out to Madrid on that Bank Holiday weekend to attend the final. The Spanish capital has a significant Argentinean expatriate community, believed to be around 60-65,000.
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