Latin America

Copa Libertadores: River Plate ‘mafia’ blamed for Boca Juniors bus attack

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River Plate hooligans described as the "mafia of Argentine soccer" were behind the attack on Boca Juniors' bus before the Copa Libertadores final second leg, says the mayor of Buenos Aires.

Saturday's game was delayed by 24 hours then postponed, with its rescheduling set to be discussed on Tuesday.

Several Boca players were injured when the windows on the bus were broken on the way to River's Estadio Monumental.

Buenos Aires mayor Horacio Rodriguez Larreta said it was a revenge attack.

He said the incident occurred a day after police raided the house of a leader of the Barra Brava – the powerful and violent wing of River's hardcore support.

They confiscated 10 millions pesos (£207,285) and 300 tickets for the final.

"The problem is the Barra Brava – a mafia who have been embedded in football for more than 50 years," he added.

"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."

South American football expert Tim Vickery says the Barra Brava makes their money through nefarious activities, including selling tickets on the black market.

"The hooligans in Argentina, it's not just passion, it's a business. Tickets were exchanging hands at extraordinary prices," he told BBC Radio 4.

"So one interpretation of the violence here from the River Plate supporters is that this was a revenge attack from an organised group of thugs, against the police for not allowing them to profit from this match."

Boca players suffered cuts from the glass and were also affected by the tear gas used by police to disperse the crowds.

Club officials asked South American football's governing body Conmebol to take action and allow those affected by Saturday's incidents to recover further.

Larreta called on both clubs to collaborate with the investigation into what happened and said he would do "whatever it takes to get to the bottom of this problem".

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

Conmebol says it will meet with with the presidents of Boca Juniors and River Plate on Tuesday at 13:00 GMT to make a decision on when the match will be replayed.

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