Reg asked me to write something about flight LMI2933, the aircraft carrying Brazilian football club Chapecoense that crashed outside Medellín, Colombia last week.
But what we say now doesn’t really make that much of a difference. You will hear – and have heard – words like loss, tragedy, and heartbreak.
None of those words really seem up to the task. Those words are already insufficient when one person dies. But losing 71 people all at once? How do we process that?
Several of these 71 people were public figures. Nineteen Chapecoense players and twenty journalists died in the crash.
Chapecoense, hailing from Chapecó in the south Brazilian state of Santa Catarina, were founded in 1973 and have competed in the state championship, the Campeonato Catarinense, for most of that time. They won the state title for the fifth time this year.
Chapecoense were a nonleague club as recently as 2008. They competed in Série D, the fourth division, in 2009 but won promotion all the way to Série A by 2014. They currently sit ninth in the Série A table, with one match left to play this season.
Chapecoense were competing in the Copa Sudamericana for the second consecutive year. Their road to the final included a round of 16 win over Independiente of Argentina on penalties, and a semifinal win over San Lorenzo of Argentina on away goals.
This weekend, in a heartfelt prematch tribute, San Lorenzo players wore the Chapecoense jerseys they had received in swaps after the semifinal. A dressing room video of the Chapecoense players celebrating their place in the final has been posted on the club’s Twitter feed, asking everyone to “let this be the last image of our warriors”.
Footage taken before the aircraft departed from Santa Cruz, Bolivia shows copilot Sisy Arias, reportedly making her first flight for LaMia, and cabin crew speaking to a Bolivian television reporter. The airline, which has chartered flights for several football clubs and national teams, has had its license suspended by the Bolivian aviation division.
On Wednesday night, when the first leg of the final was to have been played in Medellín, candlelight vigils were instead held in Chapecoense’s stadium and in the home stadium of their final opponents, Atlético Nacional.
Bruno Rangel was Chapecoense’s all time leading goalscorer. His daughter’s eighth birthday was on Wednesday, and his own 35th birthday would have been this Saturday.
Tiaguinho’s wife is expecting their first child. Last week, his teammates caught his reaction to the news on video.
Neto survived but is in intensive care with severe trauma to the skull and lungs. His father is optimistic that he will return to the pitch.
Manager Caio Júnior led the club to the Copa Sudamericana final. His managing career included stops in Japan, Qatar, and the UAE. His son, Matheus, was to have been on the flight but lost his passport.
Television reporter Giovane Klein covered Chapecoense so closely that his coworkers said he had made their stadium into his second home.
Ari Junior had been with Brazilian television network Globo for nearly twenty years. One of his foreign assignments was in Nepal; when it was hit by last year’s earthquakes, he stayed to cover the relief efforts.
The Brazilian season was to have concluded this weekend. All ten matches have been postponed to next weekend, and Chapecoense’s final match of the year, at home against Atlético Mineiro, has reportedly been cancelled outright. Atlético Nacional have asked CONMEBOL to award the Copa Sudamericana to Chapecoense.
In their statement, Atlético said, “For us, and forever, Chapecoense shall be the Copa Sudamericana champions for 2016”.
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