The squad of Atlético Nacional have asked that Chapecoense be named winners of the Copa Sudamerica 2016 after the air disaster that claimed the lives of 76 people.
Chapecoense were travelling to play Nacional for the Copa Sudamericana 2016 title when the plane carrying the players and staff of the Brazilian team to Colombia for the first leg of the tie crashed outside Medellín.
“We have to wait to see what Conmebol have to say,” the players said in a statement. “We want Chapecoense to be declared champions. It is our own initiative and that fo the world of football. We hope that Conmebol decide to do this.”
"A simple draw can change your desiny"
Nacional defender ‘Alcatraz’ García said the squad were in shock over the tragedy and noted that the Colombian team could have been on the same plane had the draw gone differently. The two sides were drawn home and away for the two-match final, with the Brazilian side eventually being scheduled to play the opening match in Colombia. “We have travelled on that plane four times,” said García. “This morning I couldn’t believe it and my wife was very scared. She blessed me and said ‘thank God you’re here. A simple draw can change your destiny.”
Atlético Nacional have not yet made any official statement on ceding the title to Chapecoense but the players reiterated their desire throughout the day.
"Words are not enough"
“It’s a huge blow for football and we send our condolences and thoughts to the families. We are all hurting. Words are not enough. It’s a great loss and we have talked about giving them the title but it’s not up to us, it’s up to Conmebol,” said Nacional midfielder Jhon Mosquera. “We want to give it to them and we’ll have to wait and see what happens.”
Brazilian clubs rally in support
Several Brazilian clubs have responded to the tragedy, suggesting that Chapecoense be given immunity from relegation for the next three seasons and in an effort to rebuild the club, which is a source of huge pride in Chapecó, in the southern state of Santa Catarina, Corinthians, Palmeiras and Flamengo, among others, have confirmed they will loan top-level players to Chapecoense for free.