River Plate ‘mafia’ behind Copa Libertadores bus attack – mayor

River Plate ‘mafia’ behind Copa Libertadores bus attack – mayor A section of River Plate fans, described as the “mafia of Argentine soccer,” are to blame for the violent scenes which caused the postponement of the Copa Libertadores final, according to the mayor of Buenos Aires.

The game, which was scheduled for last Saturday, was initially delayed by 24 hours and then postponed pending a meeting on Tuesday after several Boca Juniors players were injured when windows of the team bus were broken by projectiles allegedly thrown by members of River Plate’s hardcore fringe of supporters as it made its way to River’s Estadio Monumental.

Buenos Aires mayor Horacio Rodriguez Larreta said that the incident was a revenge attack after police raided the home of the leader of Barra Brava – an often violent wing of River Plate supporters – the day prior.

Three-hundred tickets for the final, along with a large sum of money, were confiscated by police following the raid.

“The problem is the Barra Brava – a mafia who have been embedded in football for more than 50 years,” the mayor said.

“They are responsible for these incidents. This is directly related to the episode the day before. So 300 people were not allowed in and they were the principle protagonists of everything that happened.”

Tickets for the final, the first time the two rivals have met in the final of South America’s equivalent of the Champions League, had been changing hands for hugely inflated prices according to Tim Vickery, an expert on football in the region.

He told the : “One interpretation of the violence here from the River Plate supporters is that this was a revenge attack from an organized group of thugs, against the police for not allowing them to profit from this match.”

Several Boca players suffered cuts as a result of broken glass and were also affected by the tear gas deployed by police to help disperse the crowds.

“We need to find out who gave them the tickets and overcome the mafia of the Barra,” Mayor Larreta added. “This is our biggest challenge and we are going forward on that basis.”

Representatives from both clubs are due to meet on Tuesday with the region’s governing body, Conmebol, to iron out terms as to when the game will eventually take place. Boca have requested that they be given additional time to prepare so as the players who were injured in the incident have additional time to prepare.