CONMEBOL says Libertadores final to remain in Santiago despite unrest

Source: Xinhua| 2019-10-21 14:39:40|Editor: ZD
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SANTIAGO, Oct. 20 (Xinhua) -- South American football governing body CONMEBOL played down fears that the Copa Libertadores final could be shifted from Santiago amid social unrest in the Chilean capital.

Chile's government extended a state of emergency after at least seven people died following a wave of violent protests and arson attacks, officials said on Sunday night.

"CONMEBOL reaffirms its commitment to stage the Copa Libertadores final in Santiago," the Asuncion-based body said in a statement.

"Our analysis will continue and the security of the clubs, players, fans and media will be taken into consideration so that football will be the only focus of attention."

Earlier, local newspaper El Mercurio quoted a CONMEBOL official as saying that a proposal to move the match would be discussed internally by the organiziation on Monday.

Interior minister Andres Chadwick told a news conference that a decision to prolong the emergency measures - including a curfew around Santiago - came amid an "escalation of violence and vandalism".

Protests that began two weeks ago against a now-suspended hike in subway fares have morphed into a wider movement demanding lower living costs and greater income equality.

Chadwick said the government received reports of 70 incidents of "serious violence" on Sunday, including dozens of lootings of supermarkets and other businesses.

"We are facing a real escalation that is undoubtedly organized to cause serious damage to our country and the lives of each of its citizens," he said.

This year will be the first time that the Copa Libertadores - South American football's premier club competition - will feature a single final, having dropped its decades-old home-and-away format.

The second legs of the semifinals will be played next week, with Flamengo hosting Brazilian rivals Gremio and Boca Juniors at home to their Argentine foes and defending champions River Plate.