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Argentina Superclásico fans to meet for first time in six years

The rivalry between River Plate and Boca Juniors, Argentina’s two main clubs, is about as fierce as they come. After repeated outbreaks of violence between the two sets of fans, away supporters are now banned from attending the Superclásico.

Thanks to a 40th minute goal from Edinson Cavani last night, Boca Juniors booked their place in the Copa de La Liga quarter-finals where they will face, you guessed it, River Plate.

But this time it will be different. This time the Superclásico will be taking place at a neutral venue. What that means is, for the first time since 2018, fans of Los Millionarios and the Xeneize will be permitted to attend the stadium at the same time.

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Matches between River Plate and Boca Juniors have been marred by violence for decades. Photo by Icon Sport

Why have away fans been banned from Superclásico games?

Argentine football has struggled with the problem of violence at matches for decades.

In 2013, Lanús fan Javier Gerez was shot dead by a police officer outside Jorge Luis Hischi Stadium after chaos descended on a fixture with Estudiantes de La Plata. He was the 60th person to die at a football match in Argentina in just the ten years preceding that fixture.

For the Argentine Football Association, enough was enough, and they took the huge decision to ban away fans from attending football matches at all levels of Argentine football.

Unfortunately, the ban did not work – 72 people died in the decade following its introduction, 12 more than the number of deaths in the previous decade.

Violence continued in the Superclásico, with Boca Juniors being expelled from the 2015 Copa Libertadores after their fans sprayed River Plate players with an irritant substance. Four River Plate players had to be taken to hospital for treatment.

The ban was partially lifted in August 2018, but only for smaller clubs. When River Plate and Boca Juniors met in the Copa Libertadores final in November of that year, both clubs agreed to continue to ban away fans – despite Argentina president Mauricio Macri declaring that he wanted visiting supporters to be able to attend.

You may be asking, then, how it was that the two sets of fans were allowed to attend the same game in 2018. Well then…

What happened last time River Plate and Boca Juniors fans met?

After the first leg of that Copa Libertadores final finished 2-2 at Boca’s stadium, the second leg was due to take place at Estadio Mâs Monumental.

But Boca’s coach was attacked by River ultras on the way to the stadium. Rocks were thrown, breaking the windows of the coach. Police used tear gas to control the crowds, but Boca players had been injured by the broken glass and the tear gas affected them further. The match was postponed to later that day, then the day after, before being postponed again indefinitely.

CONMEBOL’s eventual decision was to hold the second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid, Spain. Because it was taking place at a neutral venue, both sets of supporters could now attend the same game for the first time in years.

River won the second leg 3-1 after extra time and were crowned Copa Libertadores champions.

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Police took extreme measures to ensure that the Superclásico held at the Bernabeu was safe. Photo by Icon Sport

Where and when will the Superclásico be played?

So now we are back in that situation again – a Superclásico on neutral ground. It will be played at Estadio Mario Alberto Kempes in Córdoba, Argentina.

The stadium was built for the 1978 World Cup and holds 57,000 people. It is the home of Talleres de Córdoba as well as hosting some games for the Argentina national team.

A treat for Superclásico fans

The game is a straight knockout and will take place this Sunday 21 April at 3:30pm local time (7:30pm UK time).

This means that for ones, UK Superclásico fans will be able to watch the game at a reasonable time.

It goes without saying that it is sure to be an incredible clash on the pitch, and hopefully will see as little trouble as possible off the pitch.

Jamie Barton

A freelance football writer and podcaster, Jamie has appeared on/in the BBC World Service, PA Media, Charlton Athletic FC and Empire of the Kop, among others. He's attended matches all around the world, from Tranmere to Tokyo, and once had his bus home from the 2022 Champions League final in Paris delayed by 28 hours.

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