MADRID (Reuters) - A member of Boca Juniors’ football hooligan gang was deported from Spain ahead of Sunday’s Copa Libertadores showdown against River Plate in Madrid, police said on Thursday, amid a massive security operation for a game rescheduled due to violence.
Spanish police said “one of the most significant” hooligans, with a long criminal record, was spotted at Madrid’s international airport on Wednesday night ahead of the South American club final showdown between the Argentine arch-rivals.
“This person has been returned to Argentina. There is no place for violence in football,” they added via Twitter.
The second leg of the final was scheduled for Nov. 24 in Argentina but was postponed, then moved to Madrid, after several Boca players sustained injuries when rocks were thrown at their team bus as it arrived at River’s Monumental stadium.
One of those involved in the violence was banned from River Plate’s stadium for two years and four months, Argentinian law enforcement officials announced on Thursday.
Under the terms of the ban, Matias Firpo cannot go near River’s stadium or any other football ground. He must complete 180 hours of community service and ask for police permission before leaving Argentina, officials said.
Spanish police are calling the security operation for Sunday’s match the biggest ever for a game in Madrid.
More than 2,500 officers are expected to be on duty for the match, known as the ‘Superclasico’ and regarded as one of the world’s fiercest football rivalries.
The first leg, played at Boca’s Bombonera stadium, ended 2-2.
Reporting by Richard Martin, additional reporting by Ramiro Scandolo; additional writing by Andrew Downie; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Ken Ferris