River Plate and Boca Juniors will play their rearranged Copa Libertadores final second leg at Real Madrid's Bernabeu Stadium on Dec. 9, according to Jordan Seward of the London DAILY MAIL. FIFA execs are understood to have asked the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) if it can host the game "after violence from fans forced the second leg to be postponed twice." The match between the rivals was abandoned last Saturday after River fans attacked Boca's team bus. Plans for the showpiece final to be played on Sunday also "fell through," with CONMEBOL determining that Boca's players were "not in a fit state to play." Boca also demanded the second leg be held at a neutral venue. Qatar "purportedly made a huge offer to CONMEBOL to take the final to Doha" but it was confirmed that the Bernabeu -- 6,237 miles away from Beunos Aires, where the second leg was supposed to be staged -- was the "preferred destination" (DAILY MAIL, 11/29).
Events and Attractions
A "new form of racing designed to attract younger fans" is set to start in major cities around the world next year, according to Mark Souster of the LONDON TIMES. City Racing plans to stage events in streets in "iconic venues" such as London, Melbourne, Las Vegas, Paris and Cape Town. The concept was rolled out on Wednesday "on a stretch of the old motor racing circuit at Aintree and deemed a success by jockeys who took part in three demonstration races," each with eight runners, over three furlongs run at half pace. The races were held on a "specially laid artificial surface which can be installed and removed within 72 hours" to keep city-center disruption to a minimum. Jockey Sean Levey said, "The surface rides unbelievably well. It's a great idea. It's all about widening the audience and bringing racing to the people." The surface consists of 3,000 tons of a wax, sand and fibre mix, to a depth of 15cm, "not dissimilar to that used on all-weather tracks in Britain." Below that is a membrane which sits on a plastic base which can withstand pressure equivalent to 70 tons per square meter. Called Equaflow, it was used for equine events in Greenwich at London 2012. The Jockey Club is also a partner in the venture, which has "raised substantial investment." City Racing CEO Peter Philips, the Queen's grandson, said, "We're taking racing out of its comfort zone and we have to reassure owners, trainers and jockeys that we're doing it properly. This is by no means the finished product." Jockey Club CEO Paul Fisher said, "I got the concept straight away and it could take racing to a whole new audience, and that's my job. I'm a keen cricket fan and this could be racing's Twenty20. It could take it to a whole new audience around the world" (LONDON TIMES, 11/29).
The Champions League match between AEK Athens and Ajax was "marred by violent scenes" before kickoff, with Ajax fans coming under attack in the Greek capital as home supporters "threw flares into the stands." Photos showed police officers hitting Ajax fans, leaving some of them "caked in blood in the away end." It was reported that Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt ran over to the visiting fans "in an attempt to play the role of peacemaker" (THE AGE, 11/28).
Formula E champion Jean Eric Vergne and the president of his Techeetah team have "thrown their weight behind Sarajevo’s bid to host a race in the all-electric series" in '20. Vergne said, "I think it would be amazing to drive here. If there is anything I could do to push that, I will do it." Sarajevo was hoping to host a race in the city-based series next year, but postponed plans until '20 (REUTERS, 11/29).
Supercars shelved its plan to turn the Gold Coast round into a single 500km race from '19, with the current format set to be retained. The series announced plans to alter the format of the Gold Coast round during its calendar reveal last month, the idea being to adopt the same format as the Sandown 500 (MOTORSPORT, 11/28).
The Australian V8 Touring Car Series will be rebranded as the Super3 Series in '19. The category will officially be positioned as Supercars' third tier, below the Australian Supercars Championship and Super2 Series (Supercars).
Blizzard Entertainment released details for a revised Hearthstone esports structure in '19, which will award more than $4M in prize money. The game will move to a three-tiered competitive system. The first tier will consist of open qualifier events, the majority of which will take place online. Winning a qualifier will provide the victor with entry into one of three invitational tournaments. Each invitational will have a $250,000 prize pool. Blizzard also confirmed that more invitationals will be planned for '20 (THE ESPORTS OBSERVER, 11/29).
Prepaid cell phone service provider Smartcall -- a Vodacom subsidiary -- earlier this week revealed plans to invest 10M rand ($720,000) in South African esports tournament organizer Mettlestate as part of a commitment to grow the region’s competitive gaming scene. Though typically an investment of less than $1M would not "necessarily turn heads" in markets like North America, Europe, or Asia, "the relatively young and growing nature of South African esports makes Smartcall’s commitment to bolstering the scene notable" (TEO, 11/29).
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