Chapecoense, South America's champions
From 'Grande' Torino to Chapecoense
Carlos Bilardo, an extravagant personality in football in so many ways used to a curious method of avoiding excessive coverage of him on the bench by displaying advertising for a particular airline. He once explained to me the motivation behind this singular practice: “Upon panning on advertising the camera would be forced to move on, I elect to use an airline as the world of football owes much to aviation”. The Argentine is right, football does owe much to air travel and it's certainly transformed our lives. Sadly in the world of football, plane crashes have also blighted the games' history. From the ‘Grande Torino’ incident in 1949 to the, until yesterday relatively unknown Chapecoense, air tragedies have been a lamentable blemish on the world of football.
Copa Sudamericana finalists
This Brazilian club from the state of Santa Catarina were on the cusp of achieving greatness. Chapecó is a small city on the south of the country and recent years have seen the club rise from the fourth tier to Brazil's Serie A. The team were on their way to Medellín to face Atletico Nacional in the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana, (the equivalent to our Europa League). These games will never be played and Atletico Nacional surpassed themselves with a fine gesture announcing that Chapecoense were the champions and one would hope that CONMEBOL will also be as sensitive to the matter.
This tragedy has impacted on many. 71 people lost their lives yesterday including 20 journalists who were on their way to cover this small team about to write their own chapter in South American footballing history. I imagine that as time unfold more details of the accident will be released but now it's all about respect and the sharing of the suffering of those directly affected by the tragedy. We should also congratulate Atletico Nacional's gesture and that of other Brazilian club's offering to assist with the future and rebuilding of Chapecoense.
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