Dubai: UAE-based former Boca Juniors boss Rodolfo Arruabarrena says a solution should have been found to play Sunday’s second leg of the Copa Libertadores final in Buenos Aires instead of Madrid.
Two attempts to play the final between Boca and River Plate in the Argentine capital late last month were abandoned due to crowd trouble.
Boca players were injured when their bus was attacked by River fans on the way to the stadium on November 24. Twenty four hours later, the rescheduled game was again called off due to more fear or violence and Boca being unfairly disadvantaged due to their injuries.
Authorities in Buenos Aires were already stretched with the impending G20 summit from November 30 to December 1 and didn’t want the two events to clash.
Staging the final in Buenos Aires after the summit would have also left it too late for the winning team to then reach Abu Dhabi for the Fifa Club World Cup from December 12-22, which one of the two sides will qualify for as winners of the Copa Libertadores.
Madrid was chosen as a neutral venue to avoid crowd trouble and split up the gruelling 20-hour flight to the UAE capital, but not everyone is happy, including the current Shabab Al Ahli Dubai coach Rodolfo Arruabarrena, who played for Boca between 1993 and 2000, and managed them from 2014 to 2016, before joining Dubai’s Al Wasl.
“It’s very bad to send the cup to Europe,” he told Gulf News. “It’s the South American cup and has nothing to do with Europe.
“The Copa Libertadores has always been played in South America and they should have looked for a solution to play the final in Argentina.”
He did however concede that the relocation to play in Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium did hand his old side advantage, as the second leg — after having drawn 2-2 at home on November 11 — was due to be played in River’s stadium. “I carry on thinking Boca have a little bit of an advantage to win the cup, first of all because I’m a Boca fan, but also because they have a team that can score at any moment,” he said. “Now they are playing outside and not in River’s field they have more of an advantage.”
Arruabarrena won the Copa Libertadores as a player alongside their current manager Guillermo Schletto in 2000, and he even scored two goals in the first leg of the final at home to Brazil’s Palmeiras to draw 2-2, before winning 4-2 on penalties in the second leg.
Although he was sacked despite winning the league and cup double as coach of Boca in 2015, the former-left back says he’s still loyal to his childhood team.
“If Boca win the Copa Libertadores final and qualify for the Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi, yes, I will go down to see one match,” he added.
The match kicks off at 11.30pm UAE time.