Flight LMI-2933 from Santa Cruz (Bolivia) to Medellin (Colombia) with 77 people aboard including the members of the Brazilian Chapecoense Real football team crashed on Tuesday morning near La Unión in Colombia claiming lives of at least 71 people including 19 players and the entire coaching staff of Brazilian Chapecoense Real football team.
“It was a harsh crack-down on football in the team’s home state of Santa Catarina. Chapecoense was a strong team that could decide the final outcome of the Copa Sudamericana 2016,” President of the Santa Catarina Association of Football Commentators (ACESC) José Mira told Sputnik Brazil.
He added that it was the first time that a club from Santa Catarina was to play in the final of an international competition.
ACESC vice-president Fernando Schardong was among the victims of the crash as well. He had gone to Colombia as part of the sport delegation at the invitation of local media as an ACESC representative. Mira expressed his grief for his colleague’s death.
President of the Santa Catarina Football Federation (FCF) Delfim de Pádua Peixoto also died in the catastrophe. All the coaches and managers of Chapecoense as well as many of the state’s football officials are all gone, except of the vice-president of the club.
Mira called this loss irreplaceable and said that Santa Catarina will now face the challenge of restoring the club, founded 43 years ago in the modest city of Chapecó.
“Chapecoense has lost most of its history. It will be hard for the club to recover, but we will do everything possible to help them,” Mira said.
He added that Chapecoense was a promising team: “These players were proud and excited to leave Brazil to compete as equals with the continent’s best teams. Even their rivals noted the outstanding strength of this team which has won respect and admiration of all football fans.”
Sputnik Brazil also talked to the mayor of the team’s home town of Chapecó, Luciano Buligon, who was supposed to have gone with the team as well, but missed the flight. Buligon said that he and Chapecoense’s Chairman of the board of directors intended to go to Columbia to support their team and share its joy. At the last moment both of them had to stay in San-Paulo for an important meeting.
“As soon as we learned about the accident, we announced a 30-day mourning, abolished all the Christmas holidays, as well as lessons in public schools. We all experience grief here in Chapecó. The sense of loss is very deep, and everyone should respect it,” the mayor told Sputnik.
“We need to alleviate the sufferings of the relatives and of other people. This is all what we want and what we work for,” Buligon said.
The mayor said he has the support from the state government, the Federal Government, and the president of the republic, who has provided two aircrafts: one to deliver the officials and the doctors to Colombia, and one to deliver bodies to Brazil.
“This feeling of solidarity, which has once again imbued with Brazil, is typical for such tragedies. Unfortunately this is the end of our dream to become champions…” Buligon said.
He thanked the solidarity Columbian Atlético Nacional football club which has addressed to South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) with a call to declare Chapecoense the champion of Copa Sudamericana 2016.