South American soccer finalists ask to reschedule Saturday games ‘to respect Jewish community’


BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) — Presidents of the two soccer clubs that are finalists for the Libertadores Cup have asked that the final match be rescheduled “to respect our Jewish fans.”

South American’s annual soccer tournament, Copa Libertadores de America, the Liberators of the Americas Cup, which is equivalent to the European Champions League, is the most prestigious tournament of the region and has been held since 1960. The matches’ games are scheduled to be played on Saturdays.

This year for the first time two Argentinean teams, rivals Boca Juniors and River Plate, will face each other in the final match, after defeating teams from Brazil, Colombia and Uruguay.

The presidents of the arch-rival clubs both asked to change the games to Sundays in order to allow Jewish fans to attend the games or watch them on television.

“I don’t know how they got my Whatsapp number, but they are asking us to not play on Saturday,” Boca Juniors president Daniel Angelici said. “I don’t know if there is a minority, does it matter?  We are highly respectful of our Jewish supporters.”

River Plate president Rodolfo D´Onofrio, in an interview on the “Debo decir,” or I Must Say, show, added: “The issue isn’t only attending the game. They also cannot see the match on TV on Saturday.

“They wrote me in despair,” he said of the fans.

The issue has started to gain traction in mainstream media in recent days.

Both clubs have made recent gestures to the Jewish community. In March, River Plate hosted in its museum an exhibition about soccer during the Holocaust. River Plate President Rodolfo D’Onofrio, and the president of the Buenos Aires Shoah Museum, Marcelo Mindlin, inaugurated the exhibition.

Boca Juniors in August inaugurated the first permanent kosher fast food store in a soccer stadium in Latin America.

Both presidents said Monday that they want to change the date of the match. If the South American soccer governing body doesn’t change the schedule, the two legs of the final matches will be held on Saturday, Nov. 10 and Nov. 24 pm. Due to the tension of the matches and to avoid violence, both teams confirmed that the matches will be held without visiting fans.

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