In a clash of former champions at the Libertadores Cup, Velez Sarsfield’s fans have found themselves in hot water. Following trouble at the match against Penarol, the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) has taken swift action to ensure such incidents do not recur.
As a result, Velez fans are now prohibited from attending away matches until the Libertadores Cup semi-finals. Furthermore, their upcoming match against Uruguayan five-time champions Penarol will be held behind closed doors at El Fortin in Buenos Aires. The severity of the situation is underlined by the $100,000 (£66,000) fine imposed on Velez by CONMEBOL after the unfortunate fighting between rival fans at the Centenario in Montevideo. In contrast, Penarol received a $14,000 (£9,200) fine for their involvement in the altercation.
To ensure future safety, the Argentine champions will be unable to sell visitors’ tickets to Velez supporters for the remaining group matches, as well as the round of 16, quarter, and semi-finals, should the team advance to those stages. This tough stance comes as a part of CONMEBOL’s commitment to eradicating violence from South America’s prestigious club competition.
Despite the repercussions, Velez Sarsfield remains resolute. The club has announced its intention to appeal the sanctions as they look to address the situation and move forward positively.
Interestingly, these sanctions bear a resemblance to those imposed on the title holders, Corinthians, in a previous incident. Corinthians faced severe consequences after a young Bolivian supporter lost his life due to a flare launched by fans during their Group Five match against San Jose in Bolivia. As a result, Corinthians were ordered to play all home matches behind closed doors indefinitely, with their fans barred from attending away games.
With their fans unable to attend matches, Velez will undoubtedly miss the lively atmosphere they bring to the stadium. However, they will need to focus on their upcoming games against Penarol, where both teams will be vying for the top spot in Group Four. Currently, Velez and Penarol have six points each from three matches, with Emelec of Ecuador closely following with six points from four matches after their victory against Deportes Iquique of Chile.
It appears that CONMEBOL has taken a stern approach this year, acting swiftly in response to incidents in South America’s often-violence-marred elite club competition. Their decision to ban Sao Paulo’s Morumbi stadium for one match after a recent incident highlights the importance they place on maintaining safety and fair play during these prestigious tournaments. Sao Paulo will now face fellow Brazilians Atletico Mineiro at a different venue, while they continue to strive for success in Group Three.
As we look ahead to the upcoming matches, Velez and Penarol must set aside the recent troubles and focus on showcasing their talents on the pitch. Both teams are on equal footing with six points, and their match promises to be an exhilarating battle for supremacy in Group Four.
The recent disciplinary actions taken by CONMEBOL serve as a reminder of the responsibility that falls on the clubs and their supporters to ensure the beautiful game of football is played in a spirit of camaraderie and sportsmanship. Velez Sarsfield, along with other teams, must strive to maintain a positive and respectful environment both on and off the field to preserve the essence of the Libertadores Cup and create a memorable experience for all fans across South America.