Chapecoense to be crowned South America champions

ChapeCHAPECOENSE, the club decimated by this week’s tragic plane crash, will be crowned Copa Sudamericana champions.

Colombian champions Atletico Nacional, who were due to play the Brazilian minnows in a two-legged final that Chapecoense hoped would complete their fairytale, officially asked CONMEBOL, the South American federation, to award the title to Chape earlier in the week.

Seventy-one died, including 19 Chapecoense players, when the chartered LaMia flight they were travelling to Medellin on went down after running out of fuel.

And interim president Ivan Tozzo confirmed on Saturday night that he would posthumously award one of South America’s most prestigious titles to the Chapecó club.

“CONMEBOL have testified that they will crown Chapecoense as champions of the Copa Sudamericana,” Tozzo told Globo .

“We are receiving support from all federations. The CBF, CONMEBOL, FIFA, and especially the people of Chapecó.

“Right now we are beginning to rebuild the team. People want football, people love football in Chapecó.

“Therefore, we must continue this. Let’s talk and do well, let the dust settle and rebuild the team for next year.”

Brazilian clubs have promised to come together and help Chapecoense rebuild by making them exempt from relegation for three seasons and offering to loan them players free of charge.

In Chapeco, a small agricultural town in southern Brazil, dozens of fans kept vigil overnight in a drizzle at Chapecoense’s stadium, where the wake will be held after the caskets are transported from a nearby airfield.

By dawn fans were lined up around the block and began streaming into the stadium, draped with banners and the team’s green and white, when doors opened shortly thereafter.

An impromptu shrine swelled with fresh flowers and handmade posters and fans from other parts of Brazil joined the locals, waving flags of other teams in solidarity.

Some supporters, even as organisers piped somber classical music over loudspeakers, sang raucous football chants.

Fans said the wake would provide closure for a town whose excitement at Wednesday night’s cup final had turned to anguish.

“I will only really believe it when we see the coffins and the families,” said Pamela Lopes, 29, who arrived for the vigil at 10pm local time Friday night.

“At first there was commotion, but now a great sadness has set in.”

Some 100,000 fans, about half the city’s population, were expected to attend, as was Gianni Infantino, president of FIFA.

Brazilian President Michel Temer presided over a brief ceremony at the airport, where he posthumously decorated the victims and offered condolences to their families.

It was unclear whether Temer, wary of possible political protests, would attend the wake.

In response to outpourings of support from football fans and clubs around the globe, Chapecoense hung a huge black banner from the outer wall of its stadium.

“We looked for one word to thank all the kindness and we found many,” it read, followed by the words “thank you” in more than a dozen languages.

Workers laid out giant banners on the field, decorated with white flowers, carrying the logos of Chapecoense and Atletico Nacional, the Colombian team that held a memorial ceremony on Wednesday instead of hosting the Cup final.


- MirrrorOnline

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