I woke up yesterday morning and, like I always do, checked my phone to see what happened overnight in the news.
The first thing I saw was a headline explaining that an aeroplane carrying 77 passengers crashed in Colombia, South America, killing all but 6 people on board.
On that plane were Brazillian Football Club Associação Chapecoense de Futebol, or Chapecoense, as they’re better known. The club were travelling to Medellin in Colombia to play the first leg of their Copa Sudamericana Final (the South American version of the Europa League), against Atletico Nacional.
Only three players survived the crash. They were left back Alan Ruschel, backup goalkeeper Jakson Follmann (who had one of his legs amputated due to his injuries) and center back Neto. Goalkeeper Danilo initially survived the crash, but later died in hospital.
As news of the disaster filtered through the various different news outlets and spread through social media, there was a feeling of absolute shock and sadness which was shared by everyone in the Footballing world. Clubs changed their profile pictures to the Chapecoense badge, hashtags supporting the club were trending and players such as David de Gea, Neymar and Ronaldinho paid tribute to the club and it’s players; many of whom played with each other at various youth levels in Brazil.
As the club and it’s supporters attempt to fathom what happened yesterday, there were gestures of enormous kindness being made by other clubs in South America towards Chapecoense. All of the other clubs who compete in the Campeonato Brasileiro Série A, the Brazillian Top Dvision, have offered to loan Chapecoense players free of charge to help re-build the club. They have also asked the Brazillian Football Association to make the club exempt from relegation for the next Three seasons, to aid with the rebuilding of the club which has been left devestated. Atletico Nacional, the Colombian club who Chape were due to play in the final of the Copa Sudamericana, have asked for the trophy to be awarded to the club as a mark of respect.
After reading about the above requests, it hit home just how much more than just a game Football is to people. The club was in the heart of the city and meant so much to their supporters, who had seen them rise through the divisions in the past decade. Children have lost their heroes, families have lost their sons and husbands. I hope the club and it’s fans can stay strong, stick together and build a club which will be bigger and prouder than ever before. Chapecoense may have lost a team yesterday, but they have gained millions of new fans.