Buenos Aires (AFP) – Former Boca Juniors idol Juan Roman Riquelme lashed out on Tuesday at the decision to hold the Copa Libertadores final in Madrid, saying it would make it “the most expensive friendly in history”.
Riquelme, 40, said holding the final between Argentina’s two great rivals “won’t be the same” at Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium, adding the essence of a River Plate v Boca Juniors confrontation had become distorted.
“They took it from us. What are we going to do for the next Boca-River game in Argentina? Is that going to have to be played in another country too?” Riquelme asked on Argentina’s Radio Mitre.
“It won’t be the same. No matter how much I want Boca to win it, I think the final has to be played in our country. The way it is, makes it the most expensive friendly in history.”
The first leg of the final at Boca’s Bombonera ground ended 2-2. River were set to host the return at their El Monumental stadium on November 24 but it was postponed after River Plate fans attacked the Boca Juniors team bus.
As punishment, South America’s football federation CONMEBOL ruled that River would lose home advantage, and fears over further fan violence meant the game would be played outside Argentina.
“What happened was very ugly. I don’t want my children to get used to these things happening here, I was excited that Boca could become champions on River’s pitch, and that they respect us if we managed to win,” said Riquelme.
“What happened isn’t normal. Just a few days ago we were worried that something would happen during the G20 summit, and it seems that everything went perfectly,” said the former Boca dangerman.