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Real Madrid's Bernabeu to host all-Argentine Copa Libertadores final

An aerial shot, taken in 2013, of Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, which will host the Copa Libertadores final second leg between Argentine rivals River Plate and Boca Juniors
An aerial shot, taken in 2013, of Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, which will host the Copa Libertadores final second leg between Argentine rivals River Plate and Boca Juniors AFP/File
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Asuncion (AFP)

South American football's governing body Conmebol on Thursday confirmed earlier reports that the twice-postponed Copa Libertadores final second leg between Argentine rivals River Plate and Boca Juniors will be played on December 9 at Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu stadium.

Originally scheduled for last weekend at River's Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires, it was postponed after some Boca players were injured when their team bus came under attack from their arch rivals' fans throwing projectiles.

Boca appealed to Conmebol's independent disciplinary committee to be awarded the trophy and have River expelled from the competition, but that was also rejected on Thursday.

Instead, Conmebol hit River with a two-game stadium closure "that will be applied from 2019" in official continental competitions, and "a $400,000 fine."

Conmebol president Alejandro Dominguez said in a press conference in Asuncion, the Paraguayan capital, that fans of both teams would be admitted to the Bernabeu, something that was not the case for the original clash.

Away fans have been barred from stadiums in Argentina since 2013 due to football-related violence that has seen more than 300 people killed in the last 50 years, according to one charity.

Several Boca players suffered cuts from broken glass and the effects of smoke inhalation following the bus attack on Saturday.

While Conmebol initially insisted the match would go ahead, the two sides' presidents agreed to postpone the second leg for 24 hours.

But a day later, Boca refused to play again, insisting they would be disadvantaged, and the match was indefinitely postponed.

On Monday, Boca petitioned Conembol to be awarded the victory but a day later, the governing body said the match would go ahead "outside Argentina."

The Buenos Aires rivals drew their first leg in early November at Boca's iconic Bombonera arena 2-2.

The choice of the Bernabeu means that both the Copa Libertadores and Champions League finals will be played in Madrid within six months of each other.

The final of Europe's premier club competition will be played at the home of Real's own city rivals Atletico Madrid, the Wanda Metropolitano, on June 1.

Several cities and stadiums had been vying to host the prestigious all-Argentine final clash, dubbed a "superclasico" and the most important club encounter in the country's history.

Possible venues ranged from Genoa in Italy to Asuncion and even Qatar's capital Doha.

But Madrid won out, with Spain Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez tweeting that the country "is ready to organise the final."

He said Spain has "ample experience in such events and is already working on the necessary deployment to guarantee the security of the event."

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