The Superclasico between River Plate and Boca Juniors is one of the most hostile and dangerous rivalries in the world. Imagine a rivalry like Manchester United vs. Liverpool and the level of hostility and danger in the Superclasico makes Manchester United vs. Liverpool look like a tea party.
River Plate and Boca Juniors were supposed to play in the Copa Libertadores Round of 16 Thursday night but the game was postponed and then suspended. After leading the first leg 1-0, River Plate players were pepper sprayed by a Boca Juniors fan in the player entrance during halftime. This happened when earlier that day, the Argentinian club league was postponed when 21 year old Emanuel Ortega died after getting pushed head first into a wall during a game.
This looks like what happened, someone got into the player tunnel to release the pepper spray.
The entire situation seemed terrible from the start. River Plate players were seen trying hard to wash their eyes out from the spray and showing pepper spray stains on their jersey. Obviously, the easy decision would be to suspend the game but that decision didn’t come for about an hour. That was because the players were stranded on the field. Since the player tunnel was full of pepper spray, the players had nowhere to go and were essentially stuck in the middle of the field. Suspend the game and there could be danger of even more violence from Boca Juniors fans. Reports from Twitter claimed that the delay to suspend the game was for more police to be there in case something else happened. Police collected River Plate players jerseys for evidence.
It’s unknown whether or not there will be any additional penalties to the fan or Boca Juniors but if history is any indication, just about anything can happen. The sad nature of South American and Argentinian soccer is that no one seems to know how or want to control anything resembling dangerous behavior and surely the penalties aren’t fitting the crimes.
Sadly, in situations like these, these are the things we talk about when it comes to South American soccer and, to many, this violent behavior is the only thing they know about South American soccer. When played right and safe, South American soccer has some of the most beautiful soccer in the world, but there have been way too many nights like Thursday night that make South American soccer the ugliest thing in the world.