Copa Libertadores final to be played at empty Maracanã

SAO PAULO (AP) — The Copa Libertadores final at Brazil’s historic Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro will be played without fans due to the new coronavirus pandemic.

The governing body of South American soccer, CONMEBOL, said Tuesday the decision also applies to the Copa Sudamericana final in Cordoba, Argentina.

The Copa Libertadores final — the South American equivalent of Europe’s Champions League final — is scheduled for Jan. 30. Argentine giants River Plate and Boca Juniors will play Brazilian rivals Palmeiras and Santos, respectively, in the semifinals.

CONMEBOL said the decision to play without fans was made together with Brazil’s soccer confederation. More than 2,000 professional soccer matches have been played in Brazil since the pandemic hit the country in March.

Almost 200,000 people have died of COVID-19 in Brazil, a tally that is second only to the United States.

“The current situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, still in expansion in South America, does not allow the organization of an event of such magnitude and importance with the presence of the public, even in a reduced attendance,” CONMEBOL said.

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