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Niles North High School | Skokie, IL

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Niles North High School | Skokie, IL

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Forca Chapecoense: In memory of the victims of tragic plane crash


On Monday, Nov. 8, 2016, LaMia Flight 2933 crashed near La Union, Colombia. The plane carried the celebrated Brazilian soccer team Chapecoense, en route to Medellin, Colombia to play Atletico Nacional in the first leg the 2016 Copa Sudamericana Final, a prestigious South America soccer tournament. Carrying 77 people, including 55 club personnel, 2 guests of the club, 21 journalists, and 9 crew members, 71 of the 77 people on board perished in this tragic event.

This tragic disaster is made even more saddening when taking into consideration Chapecoense’s recent history. One cannot tell the story of LaMia Flight 2933 without first telling the story of Chapecoense as a club.

Established in 1973, Associação Chapecoense de Futebol was first founded to restore futbol (soccer) in the Brazilian city of Chapeco. After being regarded as a small club for a better part of their history, Chapecoense, or Chape as they are affectionately known, suddenly gained fame when they were promoted to Serie A, Brazil’s top division of soccer, in 2014. The club is warmly regarded for being a small club succeeding in a big money league, and has no true rivals or enemies. The club’s story resembles Leicester City Football Club, the reigning English Premier League champions, as both are smaller clubs who have managed to shatter expectations.

Chapecoense had been doing so well, in fact, that they progressed all the way to the final of the intense Copa Sudamericana. The team’s opponents were to be the famous Atletico Nacional of Medellin, Colombia. As the team flew to Medellin to play the first of two matches in the final, the infamous flight and subsequent crash occurred.

Rescue efforts by the Colombian Air Force were slowed by fog, and it was four hours after the crash that the first survivor, defender Alan Ruschel, arrived at the hospital. Seven people were found alive in the wreckage of the plane, although later goalkeeper Danilo would die shortly after getting medical attention. In all, 71 of the 77 on board died, making it one of the worst aviation disasters to occur in sports and Colombia’s history.

News coverage was immediate and grim, with initial reports of 75 fatalities, it was later learned that 4 people believed to have been on the flight had not boarded. Support and mourning simultaneously came from all around the world, with twitter and other social media exploding with messages of condolence and support from both ordinary fans and people, and also other famous athletes and soccer players. Brazilian star Neymar posted a message in English on Instagram, in which he said “Cannot believe this tragedy, impossible to believe happened, impossible to believe that the plane crashed, impossible to believe that athletes, humans were on that plane, impossible to believe that these people left their families .. is IMPOSSIBLE TO BELIEVE !!! Today the world mourns, but the sky is happy to receive Champions. My feelings all family and friends.”

The federation of South American soccer, CONMEBOL, suspended all activities and indefinitely suspended the playing of the Copa Sudamericana final, and later decided to award the championship to Chapecoense. Other teams across the globe offered players and money to club as a measure of support.

“It’s so tragic that these athletes had to lose their lives, and right before the final too. So sad.” Jordan Giamouridis, sophomore, said.

[perfectpullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”It’s so tragic that these athletes had to lose their lives, and right before the final too. So sad.”[/perfectpullquote]

While the cause of the crash has not been confirmed, it has been speculated that the plane had insufficient fuel, as the pilot reported a lack of fuel, and the distance between the two airports of the flight was very close to the maximum range that the aircraft could travel. Either way, no one can deny that a terrible incident caused some incredible people to tragically lose their lives.

Featured Image courtesy of Getty Images

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Lucas Nolte, Sports Editor
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Forca Chapecoense: In memory of the victims of tragic plane crash