Soccer Football - Paraguay’s Guarani v Colombia’s Junior - Copa Libertadores - Defensores del Chaco stadium, Asuncion, Paraguay - February 22, 2018 Fans of Paraguay's Guarani cheer. REUTERS/Jorge Adorno
MONTEVIDEO, Feb 23 (Reuters) - The Libertadores Cup final will be decided in a one-off match at a neutral venue for the first time from 2019, the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) said on Friday.
CONMEBOL said the host city for the 2019 final would be decided at a later date but that they were abandoning the home and away format in use since the tournament began in 1960.
"In addition to generating more income to reinvest in sports development, the one-game final will be a great opportunity for South America, a great leap forward for sports infrastructure, event organisation, security controls, comfort and attention in the stadiums, and in the regional and world-wide promotion of our tournaments, clubs and players," CONMEBOL president Alejandro Dominguez said in a statement.
The decision was made in an effort to bring the Libertadores more into line with the comparable tournament in Europe, UEFA's lucrative Champions League.
It is likely, however, to provoke protest from fans in a continent where the spending power is a fraction of that in Europe and where flights are long and connections often difficult and costly.
CONMEBOL said the winners of next year's tournament would get at least $8 million.
That is $2 million more than this year's winner will receive but still less than the 12.7 million euros ($15.6 million) minimum paid to teams that qualify for the UEFA Champions League group stages.