An attack on the Boca Juniors bus by rival fans which left players suffering cuts from broken glass and feeling the effects of tear gas led to the second leg of their Copa Libertadores final at River Plate being suspended.
The match between the Buenos Aires rivals on Saturday evening was delayed twice before finally being put back to Sunday after the Boca bus came under attack as it arrived at the stadium.
Television footage showed River supporters hurling objects at the bus as it made its way to the El Monumental ground.
Boca players were injured by flying shards of glass from broken windows and were also taken ill due to the effects of tear gas, reportedly used by the police to disperse the crowds.
According to reports in Argentina, a number of players, including Boca’s former Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez, suffered from dizziness and vomiting and had to be treated by club doctors. Footage apparently from inside the Boca dressing room showed the players groggy and disorientated.
Reports said Boca’s Pablo Perez and Gonzalo Lamardo were taken by ambulance to hospital, the former with slivers of broken glass in his eyes and the latter a cut on his head. Perez was later pictured with a bandage over his left eye.
CONMEBOL, the South American football confederation, initially postponed the match by an hour to 18:00 local time (01:00 UAE) as a result of the violence and then until 19:15 (02:15 UAE), but, following talks between organisers and club bosses, it was finally agreed the match would be played the following day at 17:00 (midnight UAE).
CONMEBOL president Alejandro Dominguez was quoted as saying both clubs came to a “gentleman’s agreement” the game would not be played on Saturday.
Violent scenes continued outside the ground after the suspension, with footage posted on social media showing lines of riot police being confronted by River fans.
The final, the biggest game in South American club football, is finely poised at 2-2 after the first leg two weeks ago. There were no away fans at either leg.
Several publications had earlier carried a statement reportedly from the CONMEBOL medical department saying there was no reason from a medical point of view to suspend the match.
But Boca, not surprisingly, had urged the governing body to call it off.
General secretary Christian Gribaudo was quoted as saying by the website of Argentinian newspaper Clarin: “The players are all injured, you can’t play like this.”
Before the suspension was announced, Tevez claimed Boca were being forced to play the match against their will.
He was quoted as saying by www.tycsports.com: “We want to tell our families that we are OK because we are incommunicado in the dressing room. We are not in condition, they are forcing us to play the game.”
Describing the effects of the tear gas, he said: “The feeling of vomiting grabbed me, my throat burned, it’s only now that my headache is going away. We have three team-mates who are not physically well, you cannot believe what is happening.”
Boca’s former Real Madrid midfielder Fernando Gago added: “Many players suffered, I had an allergic reaction and there were players who had a hard time breathing.”
Former Argentina striker Gabriel Batistuta branded the scenes “shameful”, saying on Twitter: “Another opportunity lost in front of the whole world that observes us, shameful, lamentable.”
Saturday’s violence came three years after the second leg of a Copa Libertadores last-16 tie between Boca and River was abandoned at half-time after Boca fans attacked the River players with pepper spray as they returned to the pitch after the interval. Boca were disqualified from the competition.
Mick McCarthy has been backed to return as Republic of Ireland manager after Martin O’Neill’s five-year reign came to an abrupt close.
McCarthy, who has been out of work since leaving Ipswich in April, is believed to be keen on the role he relinquished after the 2002 World Cup.
And he has the support of long-time Ireland left-back Ian Harte, who believes there is nobody better equipped for the job.
Harte tweeted: “Who is the best person to become manager of Ireland? If it was me I would have Mick McCarthy all day long!!!
“Mick is proven at International level. Plus what he achieved at @Official_ITFC was remarkable as on a shoestring budget! And for me he is brilliant at motivating players.”
O’Neill, assistant Roy Keane and their staff parted company with the football Association of Ireland on Wednesday after its chief executive John Delaney had held talks with O’Neill in London on Tuesday evening.
The split had looked increasingly inevitable after a poor Nations League campaign, which drew to a close with Monday night’s 0-0 draw with Denmark in Aarhus, where Ireland failed to muster a single shot on target.
In a statement released on his behalf by the League Manager’s Association, O’Neill said: “I have had the great honour of managing the Republic of Ireland national football team for the past five years and it is with a heavy heart that I leave this role.
“It was one of my lifetime ambitions to take charge of the Irish senior squad and I would like to thank the FAI board for giving me that opportunity.”
“Knowing that the past year would be a transitional phase for the squad, I have capped 12 new players in the last nine games, with the aim that they become significant international contributors in the coming campaign.”
Other names in the frame to succeed O’Neill are Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers, Hibernian counterpart Neil Lennon, Brighton’s Chris Hughton and Dundalk boss Stephen Kenny.
The search for a new Republic of Ireland manager was launched on Wednesday after Martin O’Neill and assistant Roy Keane’s five-year reign drew to a close.
Football Association of Ireland chiefs are desperate to make a swift appointment with the draw for Euro 2020 qualification due to take place in Dublin on December 2.
Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at some of the contenders.
McCarthy, of course, has previous having guided the Republic to the 2002 World Cup finals during almost seven years at the helm. The former Ireland defender, who was capped 57 times, is still held in high regard despite his famous Saipan bust-up with Roy Keane and perhaps more importantly, is available – and understood to be interested – following is departure from Ipswich in April.
As O’Neill’s reign entered its death throes, the case for Kenny’s appointment as his replacement received a measure of popular support. He has just guided SSE Airtricity League Dundalk to a second domestic Double, has four league titles to his name in five seasons and took the club to the knockout stages of the Europa League in 2016.
Brighton boss Hughton played 53 times for Ireland during a distinguished career, but has simply enhanced his reputation since moving into coaching. He had spells as Newcastle, Birmingham and Norwich before being handed the reins at Brighton in December 2014 and steering the club into the Premier League, and his success in keeping them there means he would be difficult to prise away.
England-born Bruce qualified to play for the Republic through his late mother, but was ultimately never capped at senior level by either country despite his success at Manchester United. The hugely experienced former Sheffield United, Huddersfield, Crystal Palace, Birmingham, Wigan, Sunderland and Hull manager is available after leaving Aston Villa in October following a poor run of results.