Boca Juniors given huge send-off after fake bomb threat causes stadium evacuation
Boca Juniors fans were out in numbers to wave the Copa Libertadores finalists off to Madrid after a bomb threat, which proved to be false, caused their stadium to be evacuated.
Club employees and visitors to the Boca museum were told to evacuate after an anonymous phone call was received. It occurred as fans prepared to gather near the stadium to wish Boca's players good luck ahead of their Copa Libertadores final second leg against local rivals River Plate in Madrid on Sunday.
Police squads with dogs were seen making checks at La Bombonera and bomb experts were called before it was confirmed that there was no threat. It is the third time this year that La Bombonera has had to be evacuated due to a bomb threat.
"There were a lot of people doing paperwork and we evacuated them as a precaution, that's all," Boca head of security Juan Tagliaferro told Cadena COPE. "The police did the necessary checks. Everything is fine."
Police in Argentina, meanwhile, arrested a River Plate fan, Matias Firpo, believing him to be responsible for perpetrating the attack on the Boca bus on Nov. 24, the day when River were supposed to host the second leg of the Copa Libertadores at the Monumental stadium.
As a result, several fans and Boca players were injured and the game was postponed. CONMEBOL last week decided to have the game staged outside of Argentina for security reasons.
"The city police arrested one of the aggressors of the Boca Juniors bus thanks to the images taken by our urban centre [camera] monitor," the Buenos Aires security secretary Marcelo D'Alessandro tweeted. "Along with the prosecutors' office of the city, we continue working to arrest all of those that caused the incidents."
Clarin reported that River have opened an internal investigation with a view to withdrawing Firpo's club membership.
"May all the weight of the law fall on him," D'Alessandro added.
Following the attack on the Boca bus at it approached the Monumental, the match was initially delayed while players received treatment before eventually being postponed for 24 hours.
La @Policia_ciudad detuvo a uno de los agresores del micro de Boca Juniors gracias a las imágenes obtenidas del Centro de Monitoreo Urbano. Junto con el Cuerpo de Investigaciones de la Fiscalía de la Ciudad seguimos trabajando para detener a quienes causaron los incidentes. pic.twitter.com/CKu8Uc6wX5— Marcelo D'Alessandro (@MarceDaless) December 4, 2018
And FIFA president Gianni Infantino, who was present for the match, said he wanted the game to go ahead.
"Yes, because it's always better to play the match," Infantino told Marca when asked why he wanted the game to go ahead. "There were 60,000 people in the stadium and people across the country and the whole world waiting for the match.
"And four idiots throwing rocks shouldn't stop all of that. Four, 40, 400 or 4,000. Idiots of all kinds. They can't stop it all. We try to play if it's possible to play.
"I think this was the correct attitude from all of us who were there. Once it was no longer possible, because there were some players who really weren't well, then it was postponed.
"When it's not possible, there's a need for calm and for temperatures to be brought down."
Argentina's ambassador in Madrid, Federico Ramon Puerta, has said it will be difficult for the Barra Bravas -- the ultras -- from Boca and River to get to Madrid in time for Sunday's game.
"It's not going to be that easy for the 300 dangerous individuals to leave Argentina and enter Madrid," Puerta told Cadena SER radio. "The people that have committed this [violence] are a minority but that minority has had a lot of influence throughout the history of humanity."
Madrid police spokesman Serafin Giraldo has described the security operation for the Copa Libertadores return leg as a "challenge" and estimated the cost at €150,000.
"The logistics for the Champions League final which will take place in Madrid on June 1, is done a year ahead and that of a Real Madrid vs. Barcelona a month in advance," he told La Nacion. "We have only had nine or 10 days to prepare for this one.
"This is our main concern. We have to prepare an operation of 4,000 to 5,000 officers in a timeframe that is not ideal or common in these cases. For Spanish police it's an honour that the game is played here but for us it's a challenge and the time factor is a big problem."