Atletico Nacional, the team due to play Chapecoense in the Copa Sudamericana final before Monday night’s tragic plane crash that killed 75 people, have asked the South American Football Confederation to award the trophy to the Brazilian club in a touching gesture.
Only six of the 81 aboard Flight AMI2933 survived after it crashed in the mountainous region near the city of Medellin in Colombia, with the aircraft carrying “22 footballers, 28 companions and technical staff, 22 journalists and nine crew members” according to the Aeronautica Civil.
With the final unable to go ahead, the South American Football Confederation [Conmebol] have decided to suspend all football across the continent until further notice, with president Alejandro Dominguez travelling to Medellin on Tuesday morning.
The Colombian club confirmed on Tuesday that they have asked for Chapecoense to be awarded the final victory by default, with Conmebol yet to rule on the request.
In a statement titled “Atletico Nacional asks Conmebol that the title of South America be given to Chapecoense”, the club said: “Pain overwhelms our hearts and invades our thinking in mourning. It has been unfortunate hours in which we have been dismayed by news that we never wanted to hear.
“The accident of our football brothers, Chapecoense, will mark us for life and will leave an indelible mark on Latin-American and world football. All this has been completely unexpected, that's why the pain. They were all footballers, technical staff, journalists and crew, people with many dreams, that's why the tears.
“After being very worried about the human part we thought about the competitive aspect and we want to publish this statement in which Atletico Nacional ask Conmebol to give the title of Copa Sudamericana be given to the Chapecoense as an honorary award for this great loss, and in posthumous homage to the victims of the fatal accident that impute our sport. For our part, and forever, Chapecoense are champions of the 2016 Copa Sudamericana.”
The two clubs were due to face-off in a two-leg final over the next week that would decide the winner of the Copa Sudamericana, which is South America’s equivalent of the Uefa Europa League.
Atletico released a short statement on Tuesday regarding the crash to express its sadness at the news of the accident, with the plane believed to have gone down between 22:00 [03:00 GMT] and midnight [05:00 GMT] local time.
The Atletico statement read: “The National deeply regrets and sympathises with Chapecoense by the accident, and expects information from the authorities.”
While the gesture is a touching act from the Colombian side, it will be of no consolation for Chapecoense, with the club devastated by the accident. Two players are believed to be among the five survivors, with 22 of the club’s first-team on board the flight, while the nine squad members left out of the side gathered at the Arena Conda stadium to mourn the loss of their colleagues. Candles were lit in the changing room and a shrine set-up to pay tribute to the deceased.
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