Sport Desk: CONMEBOL have announced that Associação Chapecoense de Futebol are champions of the 2016 edition of the Copa Sudamericana, while Medellin-based Atletico Nacional receive the Centennial Fair Play Award.
The Brazilian Serie A club tragically lost 19 players, plus its head coach and many of its backroom staff and directors in a charter plane crash last Monday in Colombia as Chapecoense traveled to play Atletico Nacional in the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final.
In total, 71 of the 77 passengers on board died as the plane was reportedly short on fuel and suffered a complete electrical failure leading it to crash in a mountainous region just south of Medellin, Colombia.
Now, following a request from Atletico Nacional to award the trophy (the South American equivalent of the UEFA Europa League) to Chapecoense, the title has been officially ratified by CONMEBOL, the governing body of soccer in South America.
In a statement on their website, CONMEBOL confirmed that Chapecoense would receive the trophy and “all the honors and prerogatives of the 2016 South American Cup Champion” which go along with it.
CONMBEOL stated that the decision was made after they received a letter on November 30 from Atletico Nacional asking “to hand over the title of the South American Cup to Chapecoense to honor its great loss and to act as a posthumous homage to the victims of the fatal accident.”
The governing body also confirmed that Atletico Nacional had been awarded a “Centennial Conmebol Fair Play award” for their remarkable act of fair play in such tragic circumstances.
Since the tragedy which has shocked the world occurred, the soccer community has come together to honor Chapecoense.
Last Wednesday, on the night the game between Chapecoense and Atletico Nacional should have taken place, fans of Nacional packed the stadium in Colombia and honored the victims in a memorial service and songs. Brazilian soccer has also acted to propose that Chapecoense is immune from relegation from Brazil’s top-flight for three seasons, plus plenty of the biggest clubs in the nation have said they will not charge loan fees for players if Chapecoense needs them.
The team from the small city of Chapeco in southern Brazil was on the verge of its greatest ever week as a club as they had battled up from the fourth-tier of Brazilian soccer in 2009 to the final of a continental tournament in 2016.
Now, they’ve been crowned the champions of the Copa Sudamericana to honor Chapecoense’s players, staff and all of those lost in the tragedy.
risingbd/DHAKA/Dec 6, 2016/Amirul