By Judith Nwabia
The football world was thrown into mourning yesterday when a plane carrying 81 people, including a top Brazilian football team, Associação Chapecoense de Futebol (ACF), commonly known as Chapecoense, crashed on its approach to the city of Medellin in Colombia.
The team had departed Brazil for Colombia for the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana cup final, South America’s second most important club competition, the biggest match in the history of the relatively small club, which was scheduled for today but has now been suspended.
Reports from Colombia’s civil aviation body confirmed 75 persons dead while only six people, amongst them three footballers, survived the crash that occurred on a mountainside. The pilot was said to have reported an electrical fault just before the crash.
Members of the football community took to various media to share their grief.
The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) commented on social media : “Our thoughts are with @CBF_Futebol and Mgt. of Brazilian club @ChapecoenseReal following their loss in a plane crash #ForcaChape.”
Super Eagles captain, John Obi Mikel tweeted: “Thoughts are with @ChapecoenseReal right now .. stay strong, the football family is with you.”
Brazilian soccer star, Neymar stated: “It’s impossible to believe this tragedy. Impossible to believe this event. Impossible to believe that this plane crashed.
Impossible to believe that these people have left their families behind. It is impossible to believe. Today the world cries but heaven rejoices in receiving champions.”
“There are so many people crying here,” Chapecoense vice-president Ivan Tozzo told SporTV. “We could never have imagined something like this. Chapecoense is the biggest reason for joy here.”
“Sad news to wake up to today. Thoughts are with @ChapecoenseReal and their family and friends.” – Wayne Rooney tweeted.
“Pray for my companions please,” Chapecoense striker who missed the trip because of injury tweeted.
“The dream is over,” Plinio David de Nes Filho, chairman of the club’s board told TV Globo.”Yesterday (Monday) morning I was saying goodbye to them, they told me they were going in search of the dream, to make this dream a reality.
“And we, very excitedly, shared this dream with them. But the dream was over this (Tuesday) morning.”
This is but one of the plane crashes that have claimed the lives of football teams and plunged the world into mourning.
It happened to Torino during the 1940s in Italy, for the red half of Manchester a decade later and the followers of the Zambian national football team in the early nineties.