Argentina’s Readiness For G-20 In Question After Soccer-Fueled Violence

(Bloomberg) -- Days before Argentina’s big moment on the world stage, violence from soccer fans has raised tensions on the streets of Buenos Aires.

The violence was so bad that Saturday’s South American championship game between archrivals Boca Juniors and River Plate was delayed to Sunday. The replay was postponed hours before the new kick-off time to an as yet unspecified date.

The protests, looting and attacks before the Copa Libertadores final came just days before world leaders -- including Presidents Trump, Xi and Macron -- descend on the capital for the G-20 summit. The violence raises questions about the city’s preparedness to welcome an expected 8,000 visitors this week. Argentine officials have touted the event all year as a clear sign the country is back on the map after 12 years of populist rule.

Security for the game was managed by the Buenos Aires city police, which arrested 16 people Saturday, according to multiple local media reports. The G-20 security is being overseen by the national government, which plans to have 22,000 guards in place this week from a range of armed forces. Commuter trains, most subways and the domestic airport will be shut, along with the streets surrounding the main venue.

The annual political gathering is officially Friday and Saturday, but leaders and delegations will begin arriving Monday and Tuesday.

Argentine soccer fans consider this particular title match to be the biggest in the country’s history. The nation’s two most famous teams, Boca and River, are facing off for the first time in the international championship.

On Saturday, River fans attacked the bus taking the Boca players into River’s stadium, throwing rocks and bottles that shattered the bus’s windows. Police responded with tear gas and pepper spray, but the gas clouds eventually enveloped some players entering the stadium, who got sick. A few players were sent to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.