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 Chapecoense plane crash has cast the soccer world into mourning.
A plane carrying the Brazilian soccer team crashed Monday night near Medellin, Colombia, killing 75 of the 81 passengers on board. Chapecoense was traveling to play the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final against Colombian team Atletico Nacional.
As the heartbreaking news spreads around the world, some of the sport’s leading figures have paid tributes to the victims.
Neymar, the superstar forward for FC Barcelona and Brazil’s national team, is in a state of disbelief. His Instagram message reads:
“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.”
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Impossível acreditar nessa tragédia, impossível acreditar no ocorrido, impossível acreditar que o avião caiu, impossível acreditar que atletas, seres humanos estavam nesse avião, impossível acreditar que essas pessoas deixaram suas famílias .. é IMPOSSÍVEL ACREDITAR!!! Hoje o Mundo chora, mas o céu se alegra em receber Campeões. Meus sentimentos a todos os familiares e amigos 😥😓😢😭 FORÇA CHAPE 👊🏽🙏🏽🙌🏽
FIFA president Gianni Infantino described Tuesday as a grim one in the soccer world.
“This is a very, very sad day for football,” Infantino said in a statement on FIFA.com. “We are so sorry to hear about the airplane crash in Colombia, it is shocking and tragic news. At this difficult time our thoughts are with the victims, their families and friends. FIFA would like to extend its most heartfelt condolences to the fans of Chapecoense, the football community and media organisations concerned in Brazil.”
Barcelona and Real Madrid held a minute’s silence Tuesday before their practice sessions in honor of the victims, according to The Associated Press.
Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale and Barcelona’s Andres Iniesta also offered sympathies.
Leading Premier League clubs shared similar sentiments.
Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea lost his former teammate, Cleber Santana, in the tragedy.
Thumbnail photo via Eric Seals/USA TODAY Sports Images