UPDATE (6:40 p.m. ET): Officials now say that 71 of the 77 passengers have died in a tragic plane crash Monday night near Medellín, Colombia. Brazilian soccer club Chapecoense was on the plane.
ORIGINAL STORY: The human tragedy that is the Chapecoense plane crash is bringing out the best spirits in the sports world.
Chapecoense is reeling following Monday’s plane crash, which killed 75 of the 81 passengers on board, including 22 of the Brazilian soccer team’s players. As shock gives way to mourning, Chapecoense is receiving tributes from all corners of the soccer world. But gestures of support from a few of Chapecoense’s would-be opponents warrant special attention.
Chapecoense was flying to Medellin, Colombia, to face Ateltico Nacional on Wednesday in the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final. Hours after the crash, Atletico Nacional petitioned CONMEBOL, South American soccer’s governing body, to award the Copa Sudamericana title and trophy to Chapoecoense in honor of the victims.
CONMEBOL has canceled all activities until further notice in the wake of the crash and has yet to respond to Atletico Nacional’s request. Agreeing to Aletico Nacional’s request and gifting the Copa Sudamericana — a continental tournament that trails only the Copa Libertadores in prestige in South America — to Chapecoense would be unprecedented and also represent the sports world’s highest ideals.
Chapecoense can expect material support from its domestic opponents. Corinthians announced Tuesday on its website a pair of “solidarity measures” that will help Chapecoense re-build its soccer team. Corinthians wants Chapecoense to be immune from relegation from the Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A for three years and be allowed to receive players on loan for free during the 2017 season. The 18 other clubs in Brazil’s first division have pledged to support Corinthians’ motions, according to The Telegraph’s Callum Davis.
Earlier Tuesday, Corinthians declared on Twitter: “Today there is no rivalry, or color to be avoided. Today we are all one.”
And then Corinthians backed their words with admirable action.
Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@nacionaloficial