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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

Italian city of Genoa offers to host twice postponed Libertadores Cup final between River Plate and Boca Juniors

City officials stress the role immigrants from the city had in founding the two Buenos Aires clubs.

Genoa has offered to stage the second leg of the Copa Libertadores final between Argentina's River Plate and Boca Juniors, citing the strong connections between the two clubs and the Italian city.

The second leg of the final between the two Buenos Aires clubs was called off twice at the weekend after the bus carrying the Boca team was attacked by rival fans outside River's Monumental stadium in Argentina's capital city on Saturday, injuring several players.

The kick off was initially delayed before the game was postponed from Saturday to Sunday. On Sunday, it was postponed again, hours before kick off, after Boca said they were not in a fit state to play.

Conmebol, the South American football confederation, is due to meet both clubs on Tuesday to discuss rescheduling and the venue. The first leg at Boca's Bombonera stadium ended 2-2.

The Genoa city government confirmed in a statement on Monday that it had written to the clubs offering to host the game.

The Libertadores is South America's equivalent of Europe's Champions League and it is the first time two teams from the same city had reached the final. The winner will also secure the final berth in the seven-team Fifa Club World Cup to be held in Abu Dhabi next month.

"Deep, in fact, are the bonds that unite the two Argentine football clubs - both founded by Genoese immigrants at the beginning of the twentieth century - with the Ligurian capital," Genoa's government said.

The city's sports director Stefano Anzalone added: "We would be very proud to host important clubs like Boca and River in our city by welcoming them in what, in some ways, is also their first home.

"It would also be a further opportunity to give international visibility in Genoa at this time of difficulty and to renew the profound sense of friendship that historically unites us with those societies."

The city is still recovering from the accident in August when a motorway bridge collapsed, killing 43 people.

Boca are generally more closely associated with the city and are nicknamed the "Xeneizes", the local dialect's word for "Genoese".

River Plate's connections with the city are less well known although some versions of their history say the club adopted red and white as their colours because they are the same as Genoa's flag.

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