November 28th 2016, 21:58 local time in Medellin, Colombia. A terrible Plane crash just occurred and few minutes later, the media will announced that Brazilian football club, Chapecoense, was on board in order to play the next day vs. Atletico Nacional in the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final. The results of the crash was horrible: Out of 77 passengers, 71 were killed. As for Chapecoense, out of the six survivors, three of them were the club’s players: Alan Ruschel, Jackson Follmann and Helio Neto. While it took several months for Ruschel and Neto to recover from the accident and starting to think how to return to the field, for Jackson the football career was over. As a result of the crash, his right leg had to be amputated. But comparing the fact that he received his life back, football is a joke.
Chapecoense was an anonymous football team who played in the 3rd division back in 2008, but in 2013 they already celebrated their promotion to the first division. In 2015 the made their first international appearance in the Copa Sudamericana and reached the quarter final, but they lost to River Plate 3-4 on aggregate. One year later and the team was the sensation of the continent. They won three major experienced clubs one after another: Independiente de Avellaneda in the second round, Junior Barranquilla in the quarter final and San Lorenzo in the semi final. Chapecoense players were ready for their biggest moment of their career, to meet Copa Libertadores champion, Atletico Nacional in the final. But then the plane crashed and left the fans and the World of football in tears.
Since the accident, a special bond started between Colombia and Brazil and even more between Medellin and Chapeco. Atletico Nacional asked the South American Confederation to declare on Chapecoense as the Copa Sudamericana winners and so it was. Chapecoense received the trophy that they deserved after their amazing campaign, even if they didn’t play on the field. Nacional was rewarded by FIFA as the fair play team of the year. A lot of respect to them. Instead of a game In Atanasio Girardot stadium, Nacional organized a memorial ceremony with more then 100,000 people!
Since most of the team erased in this horrible accident, the Brazilian side has rebuilt from its youth system and with the help of Brazilian sides to give the people of Chape an opportunity to honour their survivors and start a new chapter in the club’s history. As for the survivors, Helio already returned, Ruschel should do it in the up coming weeks. In the meantime, the new team did well, by beating Nacional 2-1 in the first Recopa Sudamericana final and winning the title in their region league, Santa Catarina.
When the team landed in Medellin, they were invited to a special ceremony in the city hall and then had a memorial ceremony for the victims. Alan Ruschel, one of the three survivors, said: “I made a promise that I will return to Medellin to thank the people who saved my life and I’m going to fulfill it”. Chapecoense wants to start a new page and left the tragedy behind. With at least a draw tonight in Medellin they will be crowned as the Recopa Sudamericana champion and will add another international trophy. Win or lose today, this team managed to touch in every football fan heart and I guess that everyone except Nacional’s fans would like to see this team wins tonight. But this way or another, Chapecoense showed very strong character and by recover the toughest situation ever of a sport club and now we need to pray that Chapeco are here to stay.
Atlético Nacional: Franco Armani; Daniel Bocanegra, Francisco Nájera, Alexis Herníquez, Farid Díaz; Alejandro Bernal, Andrés Ibargüen, Diego Arias, Macnelly Torres; Luis Carlos Ruiz y Dayro Moreno.
Coach: Reinaldo Rueda.
Chapecoense: Arthur Moraes; João Pedro, Douglas Grolli, Luiz Otávio, Reinaldo; Apodí, Moisés Ribeiro, Luiz Antonio; Rossi, Wellington Paulista y Tulio de Melo.
Coach: Vagner Mancini.