“In the wake of tragedy, humanity raises above everything to show it’s solidarity and support”
The world of sport and football came to a stand-still, when news poured-in on the night of November 28th about a plane crash, near the city of Medellín, Colombia. LaMia flight 2933, carrying the first-team of Associação Chapecoense de Futebol (Chapecoense) had crashed into the eastern mountains of Medellín killing 71 people including 20 of the Chapecoense players and staff. The event bringing with it, harrowing reminders of similar tragedies, such as Superga and Munich Air Disasters of 1949 and 1958 (Torino and Manchester United).
Chapecoense was on it’s way to Medellin to face Atletico Nacional in the Finals of the Copa Sudamericana (Europa league of South America). It was going to be the club’s first Continental Final in it’s history, yet it was not to be. Football matches across the world observed a moment’s silence for the lost souls in the ill-fated crash.
Nacional were meant to play Chapecoense at their stadium on Wednesday, instead, the Fans of Nacional filled the stadium to pay an emotional tribute to Chapecoense. 45,000 people dressed in white, holding white flowers, balloons and candles, gathered in the stadium as the mayor of Medellin released 71 doves while the names of the casualties were called out. The crowd chanted in unison, “Vamos! Vamos! Chape!” and banners which said, “please remember, across the continent, we will never forget the champions Chapecoense”. Atletico Nacional has requested CONMEBOL to award the title to Chapecoense. (Watch: Atletico Nacional fans emotional tribute to Chapecoense)
Football matches across the globe, notably in Australia, UK, USA and Italy, took a moment to show their solidarity with the club, family and friends of the deceased. Various global landmarks, like The Eiffel Tower, Wembley, Christ the redeemer, Allianz Arena, were lit up in green to honor Chapecoense. Many footballers voiced their condolences, while many others, having played with the late-Chapecoense players, broke down upon hearing the news (Watch: Arsenal player breaks down in tears during tribute). Famous Footballers such as Ronaldinho and Riquelme have offered to play for the team while Brazilian clubs have offered to loan out their players to Chapecoense to remain competitive.
Associação Chapecoense de Futebol, simply known as Chapecoense, were not in any of the national competitions in 2008. They qualified to the 4th division the next year owing to their excellent record in their state and in 5 years they climbed up to the top tier competition of Brazil, Serie A. In the next 3 years, they achieved the impossible by qualifying and beating the best teams in South America to reach the finals of the 2016 Copa Sudamericana to face Colombia’s superpower- Atletico Nacional. (Watch: Chapecoense players and staff celebrating their historic Semi-Final win)
It is a shame to have lost the players and staff of a promising club like Chapecoense. The loss of lives owing to an accident, by itself is very tragic. However, it is heart-warming to witness the world of sports and football come together and stand up for Chapecoense in spirit and support. In the wake of tragedy, this has been a gentle reminder to us all that sports has no borders or reservations and that respect and humanity trumps bigotry and hatred. As Aristotle would say,
“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.”