Colombia plane crash: Chapecoense ordered to play their next match by Brazilian Football Confederation

Marco Polo Del Nero, the head of the CBF, reportedly told the club's acting president that the match must go ahead

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The Independent Football

Less than two days after the plane crash that killed 19 of their senior players, as well as backroom staff, journalists and flight crew, Brazilian club Chapecoense have reportedly been pressured by the national FA to fulfil their final league match of the season next week, despite having less than 11 players available.

In a press conference on Wednesday, acting Chapecoense president Ivan Tozzo affirmed that he had spoken on the phone with the head of the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF), Marco Polo Del Nero, who insisted the match must go ahead and that the club should field their under 20 squad. 

“I spoke with [Marco Polo] Del Nero about the match against Atlético Mineiro. He said: ‘This game has to happen. It has to be a big celebration’. I replied: ‘We don’t have 11 players’. He said: ‘Yes you do. You have the youth team and the players who stayed. It doesn’t matter.”

Chapecoense’s final match of the league season was originally scheduled to be played this Sunday afternoon at home to Atlético Mineiro, but has since been postponed until 11 December. Chapecoense are currently in 9th place in the Brazilian league table and could finish as high as 8th or as low as 12th, while Atlético Mineiro will finish in 4th place regardless of the result of their final match.

Of those who were not selected for the Copa Sudamericana final and did not travel with the club to Medellin, Chapecoense have 11 senior players in their squad. Two are injured, midfielder Hyoran and Argentinian forward Alejandro Martinuccio, while their third-choice goalkeeper, 42 year old Nivaldo, announced his retirement from football on Wednesday.

“We’ll do our best to get the injured players fit, and then complete the team with players from the youth setup”, Tozzi stated. “For us, the result is not important.”

Despite the CBF’s insistence upon playing the fixture, the rules of the Brazilian championship do allow for the complete suspension of a game in the case of an “extraordinary event which represents a situation of commotion incompatible with the holding of the match”.

According to Ivan Tozzo, CBF president Del Nero intends to transform the match into a grand celebration, which “Chapecó and Chapecoense deserve”.

As the head of Brazilian football, Del Nero was expected to travel with Chapecoense to the Copa Sudamericana final in order to represent the CBF. However, Del Nero has not left the country since May of last year, when seven senior FIFA officials were arrested in Zurich on corruption charges, including former CBF president José Maria Marin. 

The Independent contacted several CBF employees, none of whom were willing to comment on the situation.

On Thursday afternoon, Daniel Nepumoceno, president of Chapecoense’s intended opponents Atlético Mineiro, stated that his club would forfeit their final league game and award the points to Chapecoense.

Football in South America has been suspended since the tragedy on Monday night (Getty)

“Atlético Mineiro will not play this last match, we will not go to Chapecó. We respect their pain. It’s not the time”, he said. Furthermore, Nepomuceno explained that he personally informed Del Nero of the club’s decision and that the CBF president “agreed” with Atlético’s choice.

Unless the CBF decide to suspend the fixture, Atlético Mineiro will lose the match by a walkover, awarding a 3-0 win to Chapecoense.