Namibia has joined the international football community in sending her condolences and paying homage to Brazilian side Chapecoense following a deadly air crash in Colombia that killed 76 people, including most of the club’s players.
A plane carrying Brazilian football club Chapecoense and an accompanying delegation of trainers and journalists crashed in Colombia yesterday on its way to Medellin, where they were scheduled to take on Colombian outfit Atletico Nacional in the two-legged final of the Copa Sudamericana.
International reports late yesterday confirmed that only five people survived the plane crash and three of those were Chapecoense’s players while the other two were passengers.
The three players who survived were identified and reported as Alan Luciano Ruschel, Marcos Danilo Padilha and Jacson Ragnar Follmann while the two passengers are Rafael Correa Gobbato and Ximena Suarez. As of yesterday, all five survivors were being treated at hospitals near the crash site.
First to send a message of condolence was the honorary president of the Namibia Football Association (NFA), John Muinjo, who said the tragedy is not just a big blow for Chapecoense as a football club in particular but a massive blow to the entire global football family in general.
“My thoughts are with Brazilian football club Chapecoense at this point in time and all affected by this painful tragedy. I would wish as a gesture of solidarity and spirit of fair play that Atletico Nacional considers and requests the Copa Sudamericana title be awarded to Chapecoense,” said Muinjo.
NFA president Frans Mbidi also extended the association’s heartfelt condolences to their Brazilian counterparts, saying the whole world, and not necessarily the football family, will keep their families in their prayers.
Since the disastrous plane crash that killed almost the entire members of the Zambian senior football team including 25 passengers and five crew members on that unforgettable night of 27 April 1993 offshore of Libreville, Gabon, it is the first time the global football fraternity suffers such a fatal blow where a football team loses so many members in a tragedy of that magnitude in as many years.
Other previous plane crashes that have rocked the football fraternity of the past includes the plane crash of 1958 carrying the Manchester United team wherein 23 footballers and passengers died while another one would be the 1949 air crash that killed members of Italian football club Turino.
Who are Chapecoense FC?
Chapecoense is a Brazilian first division football club and it has been enjoying some success in recent years, both on and off the pitch. Based in the city of Chapeco, the Chapecoense organisation has been lauded as a model of financial restraint and common sense.
This season was the first time the club qualified to play in the Copa Sudamericana – the continent’s second tier club competition. Formed in the 1970s, the team is not one of the more established names in the Brazlian game, and was only promoted to the country’s top division in 2014. On their way to the final in Medellin, Chapecoense beat major teams including San Lorenzo and Independiente from Argentina.