Deadly plane crash causes waves in Brazilian Football

A fan of Brazil's soccer team Chapecoense mourns during a gathering inside Arena Conda stadium in Chapeco, Brazil, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016. A chartered plane carrying the Brazilian soccer team Chapecoense to the biggest match of its history crashed into a Colombian hillside and broke into pieces on Tuesday, killing most passengers, Colombian officials said. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

A plane flying 81 players and staff to a South American soccer playoff final crashed on its way Sunday, killing 76 passengers. The plane carried Associacao Chapecoense de Futebol (ACF), a Brazilian soccer team that had crawled its way up through the domestic leagues in the past years to play in Brazil’s top flight Serie A and the 2016 Copa Sudamericana final. Despite six passengers being rescued from the crash, only three players survived in addition to about four players who did not travel, leaving the club almost completely decimated following the event.

News of the tragedy has spread across the international soccer world, with clubs and players abroad sending thoughts and tributes to the team and players on the flight. Clubs like England’s Chelsea and Arsenal, Spain’s Sevilla and Barcelona and Colombia’s Millonarios all sent tweets out expressing solidarity with the team and prayers for those that were lost. Fellow Brazilian club Corinthians reached out, tweeting, “All clubs unite and pray for the people’s lives. It all works out! Strength, @ChapecoenseReal.”

In addition to these kind words, teams closer to Chapecoense in South America have been working together to help the club. BBC Sport reported that Atletico Nacional, the Colombian side that was set to face Chapecoense in the Copa Sudamericana final, requested CONMEBOL award the playoff title to Chapecoense. Winning the Copa Sudamericana would result in a spot during the next year’s Copa Libertadores, the top South American playoff cup as well as the Recopa Sudamericana.

The other clubs in Brazilian’s Serie A have also vowed to help Chapecoense, publishing a public statement in support. The statement expressed sympathy for the club and said fellow clubs would offer free player loans as well as request immunization to relegation for the next three years.

This crash brings to light the amazing rise of the fated team in the past decade. After not qualifying for the Brazilian fourth division in 2008, they quickly rose through the tiers to qualify for Serie A in 2014. They have managed to stay high enough in the league their first year to avoid relegation and were hoping to premiere their rise during this year’s final.

This tragedy not only shows the unbelievable community that soccer brings together across the globe but also the incredible support that others are capable of showing for a club that has suffered so quickly and harshly. Despite the horrible event and the complete decimated roster of the club now, the help from friends and historical rivals should be able to help bring the club back from the brink of nonexistence.


Joe Burns is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at joseph.burns@uconn.edu.