Soccer-Conmebol upholds Corinthians ban on fans after appeal

Feb 27 (Reuters) - Holders Corinthians' appeal against a ban on their fans attending their Libertadores Cup matches has been rejected by the South American Football Confederation (Conmebol).

The president of the appeals board upheld its Feb. 21 ban, imposed on the Brazilian club world champions after a boy was killed by a flare fired by a Corinthians fan at their Group Five match away to San Jose in the Bolivian city of Oruro last week, Conmebol said on its website (

Corinthians, ordered to play their home matches behind closed doors, are scheduled to continue the defence of the elite South American trophy they won for the first time last July when they host Millonarios of Colombia at an empty Pacaembu later on Wednesday (0100 GMT Thursday).

Their Ronaldinho-inspired compatriots Atletico Mineiro crushed Arsenal of Argentina 5-2 in a Group Three match in Buenos Aires on Tuesday with a hat-trick by midfielder Bernard, best newcomer in the 2012 Brazilian championship.

Bernard scored an eighth-minute equaliser from Ronaldinho's superb ball over the defence after the Brazilian side had fallen behind to a Julio Furch strike in the second minute.

Veteran forwards Diego Tardelli and Jo put Atletico ahead and midfielder Nicolas Aguirre pulled one back with a free kick to make the halftime score 3-2 to Atletico before two more Bernard goals early in the second half secured victory.

Ronaldinho could have bagged a goal for himself near the end but, having been brought down, he crashed his penalty against the crossbar.

Atletico lead their group with six points from two matches, while Arsenal have none. Sao Paulo are at home to The Strongest of Bolivia in their second match on Thursday. (Writing by Rex Gowar in London; Editing by Clare Fallon)