Leaps and bounds
South American soccer confederation CONMEBOL on Monday agreed to award the Copa Sudamericana to Brazilian club Chapecoense, the team that was all but wiped out in a plane crash en route to the final.
An investigation into the cause of the crash is still being conducted.
The governing body announced the posthumous honor to the previously unsung club, which was having a fairytale season until the disaster a week ago.
Chapecoense vice-president Ivan Tozzo hailed the decision as “justice”.
“We were sure that Chape would be champion. It is a beautiful tribute,” he said.
The charter plane flying the team to the biggest match in its history ran out of fuel and crashed into mountains in northwestern Colombia.
A total of 71 people died in the crash — including 19 of the club’s players and staff.
Three players, two crew members and a journalist survived.
The team was heading to play the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final against Colombian club Atletico Nacional in the city of Medellin.
Nacional responded to the crash by calling for Chapecoense to be granted the Copa Sudamericana, the second most prestigious club title in South America.
The confederation, which is based near Paraguay’s capital Asuncion, said it heeded Nacional’s request to hand the cup to Chapecoense.
“CONMEBOL awards the title for the 2016 Copa Sudamericana championship to Chapecoense,” the confederation said in a statement.
The title includes $2 million in prize money.
CONMEBOL awarded Nacional its $1 million Centenary Fair Play award.
“There is no greater demonstration of the spirit of understanding and fair play ... than the consideration and respect shown by Atletico Nacional to its brothers in Chapecoense Football Club,” the statement added.
Starting from scratch
The small city of Chapeco held a massive funeral for its team on Saturday after the victims’ coffins arrived home, each draped in the club’s green and white flag.
A minute’s silence for the team will be held before every Champions League and Europa League game this week.
Meanwhile, Chapeco awoke to the steep task of rebuilding a top-flight team from virtually nothing.
“We have lost practically all our assets,” said Tozzo.
He has taken over from president Sandro Pallaoro, who died in the crash.
“After everything we have achieved, now we have to start again from scratch,” Tozzo said.
“We will have to start to think, because we do not have 11 players to put on the field.
“We will need a great deal of help from the Brazilian Football Federation and the broadcaster Globo (which owns the rights to screen the matches),” he added.
Including the title award and winnings from earlier rounds, Chapecoense will take home just under $4 million from the tournament.
By taking the Sudamericana title, Chapecoense will be allowed to compete in next season’s Copa Libertadores, the region’s top club tournament.
It will also face Atletico Nacional in the Recopa Sudamericana, a match between the Sudamericana and Libertadores champions.
Chapecoense said 13,000 people had applied in just two days for membership in the club, which previously had 9,000 members.
Other Brazilian soccer teams have offered to loan out their players to Chapecoense.
Ten of the team’s players did not travel on the doomed flight, and the club also has an under-20 squad with potential new senior players.
Torino, which won five Italian top-flight league titles in the 1940s, took three decades to win another trophy again from an air crash that killed 18 of its players in 1949.
In England, Manchester United waited a decade to recover following the 1958 Munich air disaster that killed 23 people, including eight of its players. The doomed flight took off under icy conditions.
United won the 1968 European Cup.