Nearly instantly after the choice to play the Copa Libertadores closing second leg in Madrid was confirmed, the ironic jokes flew round social media.
The most important match within the historical past of the event that was named in honour of those that liberated South America from Spanish colonial rule, was to be performed within the Spanish capital.
Initially scheduled for 24 November in Buenos Aires, the second leg of this assembly between metropolis rivals Boca Juniors and River Plate was postponed when Boca’s bus was attacked by River followers on its strategy to the stadium. Boca gamers suffered cuts from damaged home windows and had been additionally affected by the tear gasoline utilized by police to disperse the crowds.
After a second try to play the sport was additionally aborted a day later, Conmebol, which runs South American soccer, felt safety was extra dependable in Madrid than any of its different 9 non-Argentine member nations.
Alejandro Dominguez, the Paraguayan head of Conmebol, mentioned it was “an distinctive choice in distinctive circumstances”.
He felt that the massive variety of Argentine expats in Spain would keep the distinctive environment of the Superclasico, albeit 1000’s of miles away from Buenos Aires.
Solely 4,000 followers from every membership travelled from Argentina due to the prohibitive price of flights and match tickets, which had been rather more costly right here than they had been for the postponed fixture.
This was the Superclasico, a derby whose romanticised fierce and – as was confirmed in Buenos Aires – violent nature is famous all over the world.
But, regardless of their greatest and loudest efforts, the voices of Boca and River followers had been at instances muffled by the murmur of informal observers contained in the Bernabeu.
It felt like a fudged closing. The unfettered uncooked emotion of South American soccer was swaddled in European apply and process.
Followers of River Plate felt aggrieved as a result of they’d misplaced residence benefit, and soccer supporters all through South America felt betrayed.
Mauro, a 39-year-old River supporter who lives in Barcelona, spent the comparatively small quantity of £180 to go to Madrid.
However this was after he had spent £1,500 on a two-day journey to Buenos Aires to see the match that by no means was.
“I am actually aggravated as a result of it is a sport that we’re presupposed to play in South America. Boca performed in entrance of their followers however we will not,” he mentioned.
Nico, a fellow River Plate supporter, additionally felt cheated out of watching an genuine match.
“For me it is embarrassing,” he mentioned. “I needed to observe the match with my mother and father and my brother in River’s stadium, however we could not. Sharing this with them was the largest dream of my soccer fan life.”
Hernan, a 44-year-old Boca Juniors fan from Buenos Aires, noticed the transfer to Madrid as a betrayal of the historical past of the competitors however not one which diminished his anticipation.
“It’s extremely unhealthy that it is right here,” he mentioned. “It ought to be in River’s stadium. This Copa Libertadores closing must be performed in Boca or River. To play right here is loopy.”
However for Lucas, an Argentine residing in Alicante and bizarrely sporting a half-and-half scarf, displaying the colors of each the bitter rivals, this was an opportunity to not be missed.
“Because of the unhealthy choices made in South America, Argentines residing listed below are very fortunate,” he mentioned.
“I went to see Boca play a pleasant in Barcelona in August however an official match? The final time I used to be within the stadium was for the 2000 Libertadores closing.”
South America is hoping to host the 2030 World Cup and South American soccer chief Dominguez thinks that bid remains to be practical regardless of the assault on the Boca Juniors bus.
However as he appears at how you can keep away from a repetition of such a shameful incident, different directors may even see the staging of the match in Madrid as an attention-grabbing precedent.
Subsequent week, a Spanish courtroom will rule on La Liga’s attraction to carry a match between Girona and Barcelona in Miami, Florida in January.
Luis Rubiales, the president of the Spanish FA, is towards it and Fifa president Gianni Infantino mentioned he was “frontally opposed and I deny permission”.
However, together with Actual Madrid president Florentino Perez, Rubiales performed an important position in shifting the Superclasico to the Bernabeu.
And Sunday’s match is the newest in a creating string of seemingly unconnected occasions for the reason that World Cup that are all associated to the controversial notion of enjoying video games away from their regular territories.
A trio of Spanish Actual Madrid followers from Cordoba who had been on the Bernabeu for River’s 3-1 second-leg victory – a outcome which secured a 5-Three combination win and the trophy – thought a Champions League closing on one other continent wouldn’t be as controversial because the match in Madrid.
“We’re very excited as a result of Spain has many connections with Argentina and now we have the chance to reside an enormous, particular sport,” mentioned Ignacio.
“As for the Champions League, they already play the ultimate in numerous nations so it will not be so unusual.”
Pablo agreed. “They performed the final Champions League closing in Kiev, so for us it is regular if it is in Kiev, Dubai or some other place.
“The one factor that can be annoying would be the further journey.”
The query is: was the extraordinary spectacle of a Copa Libertadores closing in Europe a genuinely distinctive occasion, or may it’s an indication of issues to come back as soccer authorities search to use the sport’s international attraction?