After Plane Crash, Brazilian Soccer Team Declared Winners of Tournament They Couldn't Play
As the team gets back on their feet, former icons of the game are offering their services.
The Brazilian soccer team that was nearly wiped out when most of its players were killed in a plane crash last week has been awarded the title of the tournament they had been traveling to at the time of the tragedy.
The Chapecoense team was traveling to Colombia last week when their plane crashed near Medellin. They were was set to play Colombian team Atletico Nacional in the first of a two-leg final of the Copa Sudamericana that was supposed to take place on November 30.
On Monday, Chapecoense was awarded the Copa Sudamericana by the South American Football Federation (CONMEBOL).
CONMEBOL announced the news on Twitter.
In the early hours of November 29, the plane carrying 77 people — including members of the Chapecoense team and members of the media, as well as nine crew members — crashed after reports say it ran out of fuel. Six people survived the tragedy.
After the crash, Atletico Nacional forfeited the games and asked CONMEBOL to make Chapecoense the champions.
In a statement, the team said: “After worrying about the human aspect, we thought about the competitive aspect and we want to publish this statement in which Atletico Nacional asks CONMEBOL to present the title for the Copa Sudamericana to Chapecoense to honor their big loss and as a posthumous honor to the victims of the fatal accident that our sport mourns. For our part, and forever, Chapecoense [is] the Champion of the Copa Sudamericana 2016."
"There is no greater example of the 'spirit of peace, understanding and fair play' set forth as an objective of our institution than the solidarity, consideration and respect shown by Atletico National towards its brothers from Chapecoense," CONMEBOL said in a statement.
Following the tragedy, the soccer world paid its respects to Chapecoense over the weekend, nearly every soccer match across Europe had a moment of silence prior to their games, as well as many players wearing black arm bands to honor the fallen.
Some teams like Italy’s AC Milan, who have had a massive legacy of Brazilian players, had specially designed jersey’s featuring the Chapecoense logo. The match-worn jerseys were later sold at auction with proceeds benefitting Chapecoense.
As Chapecoense looks to rebuild following the tragedy, Brazilian icon and World Cup winner Ronaldinho has offered his services to play for the club for free.
The former Barcelona and AC Milan striker told Goal.com: “About Chapecoense, I think we should treat this issue with the greatest respect for the families and the club… Just like the Brazilian people and the whole world, we are still very much sad. We had a relationship with many people on that flight, I feel very sad and I hope that peace and serenity will help these families to pass this difficult time."
Other players, including former Boca Juniors star Juan Roman Riquelme and past Barcelona player Eidur Gudjohnsen, have offered up their services to help the club get back on its feet.
Gudjohnsen took to Twitter to say: “Out of respect I would play for ChapecoenseReal if they have a place for me! If not just to play with 10Ronaldinho again #ForcaChape.”
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