October 30, 2019 / 8:03 PM / 21 days ago

Soccer-Libertadores final to remain in Chile despite unrest

Oct 30 (Reuters) - The Copa Libertadores final between Flamengo and River Plate will go ahead as planned in Santiago in spite of violent unrest in the Chilean capital, the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) said on Wednesday.

The Nov. 23 match is scheduled to take place in Chile’s National stadium.

The fixture was thrown into doubt, however, when Chile’s President Sebastian Pinera abruptly said it was withdrawing as host of the Nov 16-17 APEC trade summit and the COP25 climate summit scheduled for Dec 2-13.

Weeks of riots over inequality have left at least 18 people dead across Chile. CONMEBOL, however, said it had received assurances from the Chilean government.

“CONMEBOL is grateful for the commitment shown by the Chilean government to guarantee conditions of security for the final of the CONMEBOL @Libertadores 2019,” the organisation said.

The final of what is South America’s equivalent of the Champions League is being held in a one-off neutral venue for the first time in the tournament’s 60-year history and abandoning Santiago would have been another blow to a beleaguered CONMEBOL.

The organisation was forced last year to move the second leg of the final between Argentine rivals Boca Juniors and River Plate to Madrid after River fans attacked the Boca coach as it neared the stadium.

This year’s decider is one of the most eagerly awaited in years, pitting Flamengo, who have qualified for the final for the first time since 1981, against reigning champions River Plate. (Reporting by Andrew Downie Editing by Toby Davis)

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