News out of South America early Tuesday has confirmed that a plane carrying Brazilian soccer club Chapecoense crashed in Colombia. 81 people were on board (72 passengers and nine crew members), with only six survivors.
The flight had taken off from Bolivia and was headed to Medellin for the first leg of the 2016 Copa Sudamericana finals. Chapecoense were scheduled to play Atletico Nacional tomorrow evening.
The crash took place in the mountains near La Ceja. The region could certainly have presented great challenges to the pilots and is described as a difficult area to navigate. Colombian officials have stated that either electrical problems or fuel issues could have led to the tragedy as well. The investigation is ongoing at this time.
Chapecoense’s Facebook page put out a statement earlier today and referenced that information is still coming in. The page also features recent footage from the team’s incredible semifinal victory over Argentina’s San Lorenzo to reach the finals.
“God be with our athletes, leaders, journalists and other guests who are along with the delegation.”
Brazilian president Michel Temer has declared a national state of mourning for the next three days.
According to Colombia’s civil aviation authorities, three of the six survivors were Chapecoense players. Goalkeeper Jakson Follmann, defender Alan Ruschel and center-back Zampier Neto are the three confirmed survivors. Two crew members and a journalist on board are said to have survived as well.
A team on the rise
Chapecoesne were in the midst of an amazing season in Brazil. Based in Chapeco, the club was founded in 1973. After decades in the lower divisions, they returned to the Brazilian Serie A in 2014. Their previous season in the top flight before that was in 1979.
Described by some as “Brazil’s Leicester City”, their run in this year’s Copa Sudamericana was nothing short of magical. Similar to the UEFA Europa League, the competition is the second-tier of continental tournaments after the Copa Libertadores.
While the CONMEBOL confederation has suspended the final until further notice, Colombia’s Atletico Nacional have asked for the trophy to be awarded to Chapecoesne.
“We are in contact with the authorities and are waiting for official reports”, read a statement from the South American confederation.
Tributes are planned throughout the United Kingdom during tonight’s EFL Cup matches. As more information comes in from Colombia, thoughts and prayers are certainly with Chapecoense during a truly difficult time.