Copa Libertadores: Angry Boca Juniors players storm tunnel & clash with police after VAR controversy sparks shocking scenes

Written By James Westwood
Boca Juniors Atletico Mineiro
Twitter/Getty

A controversial VAR call sparked shocking scenes in the Copa Libertadores as angry Boca Juniors players stormed the tunnel before clashing with on-duty police.

Boca crashed out of the Copa Libertadores at the round of 16 stage on Tuesday after being beaten on penalties by Atletico Mineiro in Belo Horizonte.

The away side felt that they had a legitimate goal ruled out during normal time, and allowed their frustrations to boil over following their dramatic 3-1 loss in the shootout.

What happened?

After the match, tunnel footage showed a number of Boca players, including former Manchester United defender Marcos Rojo, trying to gain access to the Mineiro dressing room to confront the match officials.

Objects such as a fire extinguisher and metal barrier were thrown at the door in anger, with police forced to intervene to try and calm the situation down.

It has been reported that law enforcement officers used tear gas on several members of the Boca squad and staff, with it suggested that those involved could now be facing arrest.

VAR controversy

Boca had a goal ruled out for offside after a VAR review when the two sides also played out a 0-0 draw in the first leg in Argentina last week, and were on the wrong end of a similar decision in the second leg.

Asked if the match referees played a key role in their elimination from the competition, Boca midfielder Diego Gonzalez told reporters post-match: "Without a doubt, everyone can see that.

"We scored a good goal, and the fact is that we deserved to win the first game as well. This hurts, we feel bad. CONMEBOL [the South American Football Confederation] need to look at the refereeing."

Riquelme's reaction

Boca legend, and former Argentina star, Juan Roman Riquelme offered his take on the ugly scenes, claiming that the police were the aggressors as the situation escalated in the tunnel.

Riquelme, who currently serves as the club's vice-president, said: "When they were in the locker room, you see a person in a suit who pushed the boys and insults them ... The policemen threw gases in the players' faces.

"They gas, what do you do? Do you defend yourself or do you let them hit you? You see the president throwing bottles, the police ... They don't say anything to them. That's the truth."

The 43-year-old also echoed Gonzalez's comments on the officiating, expressing his belief that the core values of the Copa Libertadores have been compromised.

"We compete fairly, we deservedly win both games, yet we are out. It's difficult when they don't want to give you the goals," Riquelme added. "It is worrying, supposedly the issue of the VAR is to be more accurate and not cheat. It is a very nice competition, but this is unfortunate. 

"The Copa Libertadores is not serious or fair."

Further reading 

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