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South American final in Madrid is a one-off, says Infantino

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By Reuters
South American final in Madrid is a one-off, says Infantino

BUENOSAIRES, (Reuters) – - The decision to play the South American Copa Libertadores final between River Plate and Boca Juniors in Madrid should not signal the start of a new trend, FIFA President Gianni Infantino said on Saturday.

The Buenos Aires derby will be the first major continental final to be played outside its home region, leading to speculation that other domestic and international competitions could follow suit.

Spain’s La Liga wants to stage a regular season match between Barcelona and Girona in Miami but has run into fierce opposition including from FIFA itself.

“Football is based on national associations who play their competitions in their countries and continental competitions who play on their continents and then FIFA who can play its competitions everywhere,” Infantino said.

“This is one of the strengths of football we should protect.”

The second leg of the final between River Plate and Boca Juniors was postponed on Nov. 24 after the Boca team bus was attacked and players injured as it approached River’s Monumental stadium.

Another attempt to play the following day also failed as the game was again called off.

“This is an exceptional situation,” added Infantino, who was at the stadium. “A game which already has a huge rivalry couldn’t be played.” However, he supported CONMEBOL’s decision on this occasion.

“Football must always carry on, to not play a game is always a defeat,” he said, speaking at a news conference during the G20 summit.

He suggested the incidents would not affect Argentina’s bid to host the 2030 World Cup along with Uruguay and Paraguay.

“The decision for the 2030 World Cup will be taken in around four years and there is a lot of time to work,” he said.

“It’s not the only game in the world where this has happened…..I remember a derby in Zurich where the match had to be stopped because of violence in the stadium.”

“I really wanted to see this Superclasico, a game that any supporter wants to see once their life…and I left very sad,” Infantino said.

(Reporting by Brian Homewood, editing by Ed Osmond)