Tragedy has struck Brazilian soccer club Chapecoense just days before it was set to play the most important final in team history. A charter plane carrying 81 people, including Chapecoenese players and staff, crashed moments before reaching its destination of Medellín, Colombia. Seventy-five people died in the crash, including journalists who were covering the team, as well as a Brazilian play-by-play team from Fox Sports. The crash is believed to be caused by an electrical fault that was reported by the pilot before losing contact with ground controllers.
Only six people survived, including players Alan Ruschel, Jackson Follmann and Hélio Neto. Journalist Rafael Valmorbida and flight crew members Ximena Suarez and Erwin Tumiri also survived.
The tragedy hit just as Chapecoense was on the verge of capping what could have been one of the most remarkable Cinderella stories in South American soccer. The team, which is based in Chapecó — a town with a population of nearly 210,000 — played in Brazil’s fourth division in 2007. Since then, the underdogs worked their way up to Brazil’s top flight division and won the hearts of many soccer fans throughout Brazil.
This year, Chapecoense made a memorable run in the Copa Sudamericana, where the “Big Green” was set to face off versus Colombia’s Atletico Nacional in the tournament final — the first leg of the final was to be played tomorrow.
Here is a photo of the team as it prepared to make its way to Colombia.
— Fredo, FES Bets (@ZFredo_) November 29, 2016
After learning about the tragic crash, Atletico Nacional asked for Chapecoense to be named champions of the Copa Sudamericana.
A sobering photo of several Chapecoense players, who did not make the trip due to injury, began making the rounds on social media.
— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) November 29, 2016
Brazil’s soccer federation has postponed all soccer matches for a week and Brazilian president Michel Temer has called for three days of national mourning.
Several internationally-renowned players took to social media to express their condolences:
— Neymar Jr (@neymarjr) November 29, 2016
CREDIT: Credit: Leo Messi / Facebook
Mi más sentido pésame para todas las familias, amigos e hinchas del plantel del Chapecoense. #FuerzaChapeMy deepest…
— Rafa Marquez (@RafaMarquezMX) November 29, 2016
Sad news to wake up to today. Thoughts are with @ChapecoenseReal and their family and friends.
— Wayne Rooney (@WayneRooney) November 29, 2016
Chapecoense shared this video on Twitter with the caption: “Let this be the last image of our warriors.”
— Chapecoense (@ChapecoenseReal) November 29, 2016