Some­day soc­cer will re­turn to Chapecoense, as at Man Utd

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Some­day, some­how, soc­cer will likely re­turn at Chapecoense.

Through the griev­ing and af­ter the fu­ner­als of the 19 team mem­bers who died in a plane crash, soc­cer will prob­a­bly be played again, just as it was at Manch­ester United and Torino fol­low­ing sim­i­lar tragedies.

“For so many years I was at the heart of Manch­ester United’s ef­fort to main­tain its place in foot­ball,” Eng­land great Bobby Charl­ton wrote in his 2007 au­to­bi­og­ra­phy. “There was al­ways one great hope: the re­turn to great­ness of my beloved club.”

Chapecoense, a team from the small Brazil­ian town of Chapeco, was on its way to play in the Copa Su­damer­i­cana fi­nal - South Amer­ica’s sec­ond big­gest club tour­na­ment - when the char­ter air­line car­ry­ing the play­ers, staff and me­dia crashed into a Colom­bian moun­tain­side, killing 71 on board.

Three play­ers sur­vived, but all suf­fered se­ri­ous in­juries. In 1958, eight Manch­ester United play­ers died on a snowy Mu­nich run­way. Led on the field by the 20-year-old Charl­ton, the English team soon set about en­sur­ing the soul of “Busby Babes” was not ex­tin­guished.

Torino was the dom­i­nant force in Ital­ian soc­cer be­fore the 1949 Su­perga air dis­as­ter killed 18 play­ers. The team had won the pre­vi­ous four Serie A ti­tles, but it took un­til 1976 for the team to win the league again - its last league ti­tle.

“It’s a des­tiny that binds us in­ex­tri­ca­bly,” Torino wrote on Twit­ter af­ter the Chapecoense dis­as­ter. “We are with you fra­ter­nally.” The Chapecoense ad­min­is­tra­tors who sur­vived or didn’t travel with the team have to bal­ance the re­spon­si­bil­ity of car­ing for the fam­i­lies in mourn­ing and the play­ers still alive. Matheus Saroli, the coach’s son, for­got his pass­port so he couldn’t travel. An in­jury pre­vented Ale­jan­dro Mart­in­uc­cio from join­ing his team in Colom­bia for the first leg of the Copa Su­damer­i­cana fi­nal against Atletico Na­cional - the big­gest match in the club’s his­tory.

Since the crash, Chapecoense has been of­fered play­ers on loan by ri­val clubs Fla­mengo, Palmeiras and Sao Paulo in or­der to keep go­ing, just like Manch­ester United was 58 years ago.

Matt Busby’s tal­ented 1958 United squad had been des­tined for great­ness. The team was fly­ing back from Bel­grade af­ter se­cur­ing a place in the Euro­pean Cup semi­fi­nals. Two months later, a re­assem­bled United team lost to AC Mi­lan. “I played my heart out on the night and I was man of the match against Mi­lan,” for­ward Kenny

Mor­gans, who died in 2012, re­called in 2008 ahead of 50th an­niver­sary of the dis­as­ter. “Then I just sort of packed my ca­reer in. I didn’t want to play in the first team be­cause I missed the boys that had died.” Af­ter Mu­nich, some United play­ers felt aban­doned by the club. “Jackie Blanch­flower and Johnny Berry found life very hard af­ter Mu­nich,” team­mate Al­bert Scan­lon re­called in the 2007 book “The Lost Babes” be­fore his death two years later. “Mu­nich killed not only a lot of the play­ers who were on that flight but some of the sur­vivors, too, and all the young play­ers who had to come in a year or two early. They were never the same.” A decade later, United won Euro­pean soc­cer’s top prize for the first time. Charl­ton, fit­tingly, scored twice in a 4-1 vic­tory over Ben­fica in the Euro­pean Cup fi­nal, cap­ping the re­cov­ery of a club that has gone on to be­come the most suc­cess­ful in the English game.

“(Mu­nich) brought a great deal of sym­pa­thy at the time and, from then on, the ro­mance was built purely be­cause of the way Matt re­built the team and won the Euro­pean Cup in ‘68,” for­mer United man­ager Alex Fer­gu­son said, “and did it the right way.” —AP

LIVER­POOL: Liver­pool’s Welsh striker Ben Wood­burn scores his team’s sec­ond goal dur­ing the English League Cup quar­ter-fi­nal foot­ball match be­tween Liver­pool and Leeds United at An­field in Liver­pool, north west Eng­land on Tues­day.—AFP

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