Chapecoense vow to re­build af­ter air­line ac­ci­dent

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

THE vice-pres­i­dent of Brazil­ian top flight side Chapecoense has vowed to get the club back on its feet and play­ing again next year af­ter a plane crash in Colom­bia wiped out al­most the en­tire squad.

Colom­bia’s worst air dis­as­ter in two decades killed all but five peo­ple as the team flew to face Atletico Na­cional of Medellin in the first leg of the Copa Su­damer­i­cana fi­nal, South Amer­ica’s equiv­a­lent of the Europa League.

Club vice pres­i­dent Ivan Tozzo told Brazil’s Globoe­s­porte web­site he was determined to re­build Chapecoense and play in the Brazil­ian league again next year.

“We are go­ing to have to re­struc­ture the club, sign new play­ers, hold lots of meet­ings and have lots of pa­tience to keep go­ing in the Brasileiro, a tour­na­ment that is very im­por­tant to us,” Tozzo said. “We in­tend on con­tin­u­ing next year.” The BAe 146 char­ter plane went down about 10:15 pm on Mon­day night with 68 pas­sen­gers and a crew of nine on board. The air­craft had re­ported elec­tri­cal prob­lems and de­clared an emer­gency min­utes ear­lier as it neared its des­tina- tion, Medellin air­port of­fi­cials said.

While talk of foot­ball has been muted as fans, play­ers and of­fi­cials come to terms with the tragedy, start­ing afresh would not be a new ex­pe­ri­ence for the club.

Chapecoense al­most went to the wall at the start of the cen­tury but bat­tled back to rise from the fourth to the first di­vi­sion in just five years, in­clud­ing two con­sec­u­tive pro­mo­tions in sea­sons 2012 and 2013.

The small club from Chapeco in south­ern Brazil will be aided in their come­back by other se­nior teams, a group of whom called for the club to be ex­empt from rel­e­ga­tion for three years.

Brazil’s top-flight clubs have united to re­quest that Chapecoense be granted im­mu­nity from rel­e­ga­tion for the next three sea­sons fol­low­ing a plane crash which killed the ma­jor­ity of their squad.

In a state­ment pub­lished by sev­eral of the coun­try’s top sides, in­clud­ing league cham­pi­ons Palmeiras, club pres­i­dents also said they would loan play­ers to help Chapecoense get back play­ing again.

“It is the min­i­mum ges­ture of sol­i­dar­ity that is within our reach at this point in time but it is borne of the sin­cer­est de­sire to re­con­struct this in­sti­tu­tion and that part of Brazil­ian foot­ball that was lost to­day,” the state­ment said.

Only three of the play­ers who flew north for the Copa Su­damer­i­cana fi­nal against Atletico Na­cional sur­vived the crash in the moun­tains out­side Medellin.

The of­fer to help came as clubs across Brazil put aside old ri­val­ries to show their sol­i­dar­ity with the stricken side.

Even teams whose most hated ri­vals play in green turned their sta­di­ums and their web sites green on Tues­day night.

Corinthi­ans, who once looked at the pos­si­bil­ity of dy­ing their pitch a dif­fer­ent colour be­cause Palmeiras play in green, turned their home page a bright shade of emer­ald.

Atletico Paranaense over­looked their ri­valry with Coritiba to light their sta­dium green in trib­ute to the fallen Chapecoense play­ers and staff.

In Rio, the statue of Christ the Redeemer was lit up in green spot­lights above the city, while the pres­i­den­tial palace in Brasilia was also bathed in green light. – Reuters

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