Juventus holds a moment of silence for Chapecoense. (Photo courtesy of Juventus)

Chapecoense Awarded Copa Sudamericana Title After Tragic Plane Crash


DECEMBER 06, 2016

Jakarta. South America football's governing body Conmebol has handed the Copa Sudamericana 2016 title to Chapecoense, the darling of Brazilian club football that lost almost all of its players in a tragic plane crash in Colombia that killed 71 people last week.

Copa Sudamericana is a second tier tournament pitting South American clubs, the equivalent of the Europa League.

The Chapecoense team was flying to Medellin in Colombia to play the biggest game in the club's history, the first leg of the Sudamericana final against Colombia's Atletico Nacional.

The chartered plane the team was on crashed before landing after reportedly running out of fuel. There were only six survivors, including three players.

World football's governing body FIFA confirmed that the 2016 Sudamericana Cup has been awarded to Chapecoense.

"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," FIFA stated on its website on Monday (05/12).

"In the wake of the air tragedy in Colombia on Nov. 28, Atletico Nacional requested to the South American football confederation that their opponents for the Copa Sudamericana final be declared champion. Today, Conmebol made the announcement official," the statement said.

Chapecoense had never won the trophy before.

Tributes from around the world

The tragic accident that befell Chapecoense has gained worldwide attention with support coming in from various players, clubs and officials around the world.

FIFA said in a statement that all football matches during the week should start with a moment of silence before kick-off, and the order has been obediently followed.

In the "Clasico" match in Spain on Saturday — usually a highly charged, tense affair — FC Barcelona and Real Madrid players stood together as one before kick-off. The match ended in a 1-1 draw.

Barcelona and Real Madrid players observe a moment of silence before the 'Clasico' match to pay respect to the victims of a plane crash in Medellin, Colombia, that killed most of the players and staff of Brazil's Chapecoense team. (Reuters Photo/Sergio Perez)

In England, most matches also began with a moment of silence to pay respect to the Chapecoense players. Brazilians David Luiz and Willian celebrated scoring for their club Chelsea by displaying black arm bands with the hashtag "#ForcaChape" (Forward Chape) when Chelsea beat Manchester City 3-1 on Saturday.

In Italy, Juventus paid their respect to Chapecoense also with a moment of silence before their match against Atalanta on Saturday, but with a touching twist.

The defending Serie A champions left on only the green stadium lights and displayed the Chapecoense club logo on the big screen before kick-off. Knowing that the "Big Green" is the Chapecoense team nickname, spectators applauded loudly in response to the tribute, before the match saw Juventus defeat Atalanta 3-1.

Juventus players pause for a moment of silence for Chapecoense before their match against Atalanta on Saturday (03/12). (Photo courtesy of Juventus)

The Indonesian national team also paid a minute's tribute to the fallen Chapecoense players before kick-off when they faced Vietnam in the first leg of the Asean Football Federation Cup semifinals.

Umbro runs out of replica shirts

Meanwhile, the outpouring of support for the Brazilian football team has nearly wiped out retailers' inventory of Chapecoense team shirts, forcing an emergency meeting with producer Umbro for an extra run.

Ivan Tozzo, acting president of the Chapecoense club, said in an interview earlier on Thursday that he had met the day before with local Umbro representatives to discuss ramping up production.

Demand has been so overwhelming that the nearest Umbro factory does not have sufficient fabric to make jerseys for all the Brazilian clubs requesting commemorative editions ahead of the final game of the season.

"They're all out of Chapecoense green!" Tozzo said.

Umbro acknowledged that demand for the shirts was high as football fans around the world looked to show their solidarity with the team.

UK-based Umbro said it was looking for ways to handle the demand for Chapecoense shirts.

"However, something will have to be done with the cooperation of both our partners in Brazil and the club themselves, who are understandably concerned with more pressing matters at this time," the company, which also sponsors Everton, West Ham, PSV Eindhoven and the Republic of Ireland, said in a statement on Facebook.

With additional reporting from Reuters.