This Wednesday, it will be a year since the plane crash of Chapecoense’s delegation.
The accident occurred due to lack of fuel and the plane crashed near the city of Medellin, when it was few minutes from arriving at the airport. In all, counting crewmembers, journalists, coaching staff and players, 71 people died. The disaster is considered one of the biggest tragedies in the history of sports. The victims are still missing in the view of the football world, leaving their families, friends and club, behind.
Before the horrible accident, Chapecoense was on tis way to the club’s biggest game ever - the the Copa Sudamericana final, against the Copa Libertadores champion, Atletico Nacional. What a journey it was.
Their way in the competition wasn’t easy, with several emblematic moments.
A penalty shootout against Argentinean giant Independiente, in which goalkeeper Danilo defended four out of eight penalty kicks, in order to take the team to the quarterfinals. After eliminating Junior Barranquilla from Colombia, the team faced San Lorenzo in the semifinals.
In the first match, a 1:1 draw in Argentina, gave the Brazilians the away goals advantage. This scenario was materializing, however, was threatened when at 48 of the second half a foul charged in the team area almost resulted in a goal, but again, Danilo saved the team with a miracle. 0:0 and the story became history - Chapecoense, a minnows team who entered the competition for being the best ‘Fair Play’ team in Brazil, who no major achievements, have qualified for the final of South America’ second biggest football stage.
A few days later, the team would travel to Colombia, where they should have played the first game of the final. Over the weekend, they had played for the against Palmeiras in the local league, and the team bus had been much applauded by the fans of the team from São Paulo.
All Brazil supported Chape. It was a Hollywood classical script. A team with very few resources, but with a lot of organization, passion and will. A team of players who, in general, were not the most famous or who had successful careers. But this team was different: everything worked out. And they were ready to make history.
The team's plane took off on Tuesday, heading for Medellin. The flight was by the company LaMia, which had already led the Argentine team to a game of South American qualifiers. Before it arrived at the airport, the plane crashed.The fuel was not enough. This stupid negligence killed 71 people. 71 families that will never be what they once were.
The information after the accident was inaccurate: some said that it was just a forced landing and that everyone was well. Unfortunately, those were wrong. Only three players survived.
Jakson Follmann, Alan Ruschel and Neto,together with the journalist Rafael Henzel and two crew members Ximena Suarez and Erwin Tumiri. Except of them – everyone were dead.
The tragedy had took over the world of football. FIFA, CONMEBOL, UEFA and basically every football organization and clubs from all over the world have done wonderful homages for the team; Nacional, the rival in the final, has gave up the title for Chape and the support came from everywhere. On the day and time that the game was supposed to take place, Colombian fans have crowded at the Atletico Nacional’ stadium, in order to pay a homage to the deceased in the accident. 52 thousand people lit candles to pray for those who are gone. Everyone were united, for the sake of the small club from Santa Catarina. Football, as an idea and a community,has proved once again, what it capable of.
A few days later, the funeral ceremony began at the Chapecoense stadium. It was broadcast on television, and Brazil was all attached to the mourning.
Since then, many promises have been made to families. Many have not been fulfilled and various lawsuits are in court. Chapecoense restructured and managed to win the state title and stay in the first division this year, despite gathering an entirely new team – an honorable achievement by all counts.
Even after a year, the wound is still opened. It is impossible not to get emotional, when remembering those who are gone. The narrative of Chapecoense’s achievement and story show us that everything is possible for those who believe. They believed and managed to make history. They forever will be a part in the great history of this wonderful sport.
Nowadays, one year after, all we want in Brazil, is to go back in time. Back to cheer for the ball from Angeleri come in. A short curve, so Danilo would let that ball pass him and give San Lorenzo their spot in the final, instead of Chapeconese.
Sometimes, a hope for a miracle that would never happened helps to confront the sadness. Today we all remember the victims but hope for another miracles from the small club from the city of Chapeco.
Vitor Buratini Mendes is a 16 years old Brazilian student, a die hard Palmeiras fan and a passionate follower of South American football. You can follow him on twitter.