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Copa Libertadores – A New Global Event?

The Copa Libertadores final is one of the biggest games in soccer, yet outside of Latin America, the coverage is sparse. Often hotly contested and played with great passion it features some of the biggest names in soccer. Here’s how it’s shaping up.

Boca Versus River

The 2018 final featured Buenos Aires rivals Boca Juniors and River Plate, it was nicknamed “The Final to End All Finals.” After a 2-2 first-leg tie in La Bombonera, the second leg was supposed to be played in River’s El Monumental. That never materialized, because of constant fighting between the supporters. The final was moved to Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu and River ran out 3-1 victors.

New Opportunities

The Copa Libertadores final being played in Europe opened new doors and attracted a new global audience. Since then, some household names have moved to South America. Dani Alves, Juanfran, Filipe Luís, and Rafinha are now playing their trade in Brazil’s Serie A, while Italian legend Daniele De Rossi joined Boca Juniors. This has sparked a new interest in South American soccer. Now it is up to the clubs to capitalize on this new viewership.

Economic Struggle

Latin America is still a relatively poverty-stricken part of the world, and as a result, players earn a lot less than their European counterparts. Giants like Boca and River can’t financially compete with European clubs. If handled right, this newfound global interest could be a tool for economic change. Potential sponsorships and endorsements could see a huge influx of revenue injected not only into soccer clubs but entire communities.

Risen From the Ashes

South American soccer has suffered a lot over the last 15 years. After Brazil’s 2002 World Cup glory, South American competitiveness declined rapidly. Only once has a CONMEBOL nation reached the final of the World Cup since then—Argentina in 2014. Now it seems that a new era of South American soccer might be upon us.

The Present Day

The first legs of the Copa Libertadores semi-finals have already been played with River beating Boca 2-0 and Grêmio and Flamengo drawing. The final, which is now a one-off, will be played in Santiago de Chile’s Estadio Nacional on November 23.

For more on this topic, you can watch this Tifo Football video.

Illustration by @jamieorrell

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