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Copa Libertadores final moved from Santiago to Lima

November 5, 2019 GMT
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A mask demonstrator clash with the police during an anti-government protest in Santiago, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. Chileans have been taking to the streets and clashing with the police to demand better social services and an end to economic inequality, even as the government announced that weeks of demonstrations are hurting the country's economic growth. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
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A mask demonstrator clash with the police during an anti-government protest in Santiago, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. Chileans have been taking to the streets and clashing with the police to demand better social services and an end to economic inequality, even as the government announced that weeks of demonstrations are hurting the country's economic growth. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)

ASUNCION, Paraguay (AP) — South America’s soccer body CONMEBOL decided on Tuesday to move the Copa Libertadores final from Santiago to Lima because of a weekslong wave of demonstrations in the Chilean capital.

CONMEBOL announced the move after a meeting with representatives of the two finalists — defending champion River Plate of Argentina and Brazil’s Flamengo.

The one-leg final remains scheduled for Nov. 23, but now in Peru’s capital instead of Santiago’s Estadio Nacional stadium.

The governing body did not say which stadium will host the game. The options are the 80,000-seater Estadio Monumental and the Estadio Nacional, with a capacity for 50,000 fans.

Chile has been in political turmoil for almost 20 days since demonstrations began last month after the government announced a hike in subway fares. The protests have expanded to include demands over education, health services and economic inequality.

Many protesters scheduled a demonstration for the day of the final, in another attempt to force Chilean President Sebastián Piñera to resign.

Argentinian and Brazilian soccer executives also took part of the meeting in Asuncion.

CONMEBOL said in a statement the decision was supported by both River and Flamengo.

Earlier Tuesday, Chile’s soccer federation called off the national’s team’s friendly scheduled for Friday against Bolivia because of the protests.

Last week, Chile’s government insisted the Copa Libertadores final was going to be played in Santiago despite the cancellation of two global summits in the city.

Chile had already called off the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and U.N. global climate gatherings, planned for November and December in its capital.

Santiago’s Estadio Nacional was picked more than one year ago as the venue for the first single-match final of South America’s main club tournament.

Next year’s final will be at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana stadium.

Last year, the deciding Copa Libertadores game between River and archrivals Boca Juniors had to be moved to Madrid because of violent incidents in Buenos Aires. River won 3-1 at Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabéu stadium.

Thousands of match tickets had already been sold and hotel reservations made before the protests began.

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