Some­day foot­ball will re­turn to Chapecoense

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

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-yearold 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.

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