ASUNCION: Statement by CONMEBOL president Alejandro Dominguez:

On Saturday, November 24 will be remembered in the history of world football for all the wrong reasons. It was supposed to be a final of the CONMEBOL Libertadores for the memory, the last in round-trip format. In the end it ended up being a day that should fill us all with sadness and shame; something that must unleash a deep reflection and a serious self-criticism in all the estates, not only of soccer, but of society.

In spite of the previous agreement of fair play signed by the presidents of both finalist clubs and of all the alerts issued from CONMEBOL to those responsible for security, the stadium and the surroundings were the scene of an irrational violence and apparently unpunished, towards the players, the public, children and families who came peacefully, the authorities, the neighbors. The vandalism events were painful. The barbarism that has been taking over our football placed many lives at risk.

As president of CONMEBOL, I put my best efforts to ensure the integrity of everyone: from the players to the public who patiently waited for the painful circumstances outside the show and the responsibility of CONMEBOL to be resolved. I called the authorities of both clubs, we waited for the medical reports, we reviewed the institutional protocols and finally, in agreement with both presidents, I made the decisions for the good of all those involved.

On behalf of CONMEBOL, it is also my duty to hold accountable those responsible for guaranteeing the security of the event and public order. Clearly the protocols failed and the authorities did not measure up to the circumstances. Now, what remains is to act immediately to identify, capture and apply the rigor of justice to those who caused so much damage.

I also call on the leaders of River Plate and Boca Juniors, to understand that the responsibility they have in their hands goes far beyond just defending their colors and the interests of their partners. First of all, they have a responsibility towards South American football, often devalued and criticized in our countries, but appreciated throughout the rest of the world.

The same goes for the media, to whom I ask respect, equanimity and perspective in the coverage to inform the public correctly, to relate the facts, to combat misinformation and to unmask the interested visions and the erroneous perceptions.

In the CONMEBOL that I preside over, football is not won with stones or aggressions. It is won by the players on the court. And more in South America with the quality of our players. In the CONMEBOL that I preside, we play respecting the rival, having the fair play as vision in the field, in the stands, in the leadership.

Finally, I call for all actors in South American football to set a priority and join efforts to identify, understand and combat the causes and acts of violence that tarnish our football. There is much more at stake than a sports title. Either all the actors in South American football come together to end the violence, or the violence will be responsible for ending South American football.