On May 14, 2015, it went down in the history of Argentine sports as one of the most scandalous nights that is remembered. Copa Libertadores match, return of the round of 16. After 0 to 0 of the first part of the match, the match had to be suspended after the River players received pepper spray when they returned to the field of play.
The night, remembered as that of “pepper spray”, marks a forgettable stage in Argentine sport and today, five years later, one of those who remembered that day was Roger Bello, former sports commissioner who served as a Conmebol watchman.
“From my report, I already imagined that Boca would be disqualified,” recalled the former officer. And I add: “That night we were lucky, the guide, the light, to be able to decide in the most impartial way. That we could all leave unscathed after what that misfit did.” But in addition, he explained that “that night I was afraid. In the first minutes I was afraid. In the midst of that chaos, I stopped for a moment and looked at the stands. I said: ‘They are coming on us, here they put us on the court and we they kill everyone. ‘That was my great fear. “
Bello worked more than 15 years as a Conmebol commissioner and explained that “the conditions were not to play, to the five minutes I already knew that the party could not continue, that it was necessary to suspend it. I approached referee Herrera and said: ‘Darío, you don’t say anything. Nothing. I’m going to tell you. ‘ I already knew what I was going to do, but I didn’t tell anyone. It couldn’t leak. After five minutes, I could not tell 50 thousand people that such a game would not continue, that they all go home. “
And he went on to explain why they decided to wait an hour before ending the meeting: “It was because I started driving to evict the public. There were many families, boys. Anything could happen. I know the rules by heart. I know there are to wait 40 minutes when there is an incident and the priority is to play. But the River boys were not there to continue. “
Bello also explained that he did not receive pressure from TV to continue the meeting in addition to having received all the support of the Conmebol managers at that time. In addition, he reviewed the intersection he had with Rodolfo D’Onofrio Back then: “He wanted to see how his players were doing. I saw him. He insulted me. I said to him: ‘President, go back to your place, let me do my job.’ Patanian said to me: ‘They can’t play like this.’ ‘Get out.’ I didn’t take it as a pressure, but as they wanted to know how their players were doing. “
But he also explained the conversation he had with Daniel Angelici, by then president of Boca: “I also spoke with him, at the height of the moment. I went to an office. He was alone. Sitting down. He was holding his head. He apologized. He said to me: ‘We have been preparing for this match days ago, all the security part, and look, Roger, what’s wrong with us. ” And he added that the leader did not ask him to continue the game: “He told me to do what I thought appropriate.”
Finally, in dialogue with Olé, the former sports commissioner related the dialogue he had with Marcelo Gallardo In which he also revealed that he did receive some pressure from security. “I spoke to him (Gallardo) in three moments. He told me that the players were not going to recover: ‘Look how Ponzio is’. And I wondered how much longer it would take to make a decision. I had the decision, but I didn’t I could say it. The only one who pressed me was the security one. “
Back then, the security secretary was Sergio Berni. “He said that you had to play. ‘It has to start now. I demand that you play. ‘ Obviously I did what I considered best. I was coordinating everything with a police chief who helped me, a short man, very capable, I do not remember his name. I asked him if he had the troops to be able to make an orderly exit for the people because that night he had left at the Cilindro de Avellaneda as well. He said yes, that the troops were there, that it was possible. When there was more than an hour of waiting, many people began to withdraw. About ten thousand people remained, a little more capable. The decision was made that the match would be suspended because there really were no conditions. There Herrera gathers the captains and tells them he was suspended, “Bello closed.