Written by Amos Murphy
A plane crash which brought anguish to all of football – how a team which very many had never heard of, are stapled into the thoughts of us all.
Stunned by tragedy and silenced through despair; the world of football entered a mourning period this morning, as news broke out that a small Brazilian club with big ambitions had been torn apart in the most sinister and cruelest of ways.
As the Chapecoense squad boarded the aircraft, on their way to Colombia for the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final (the South American equivalent to the Europa League), they left with colossal dreams; a club which is only forty-three years old and a mere seven years ago applied their trade in the fourth division of Brazilian football, to be playing in a game of such magnitude was unprecedented in the exclusive and elite world of South American football – fairytale esque.
These dreams of bringing success to a city with less inhabitants than Northampton, were prematurely ripped away in the most melancholic and ruinous situations conceivable, not through an agonising penalty shoot-out loss, nor through a controversial refereeing decision, but something much bigger. Something which has not only left a crack through the spine of the cohered community formed through the love and desire for this team, but also the entire footballing world and beyond.
A football club which experienced jubilation and ecstasy five days prior, having reached the final of the Copa Sudamericana after beating one of Argentina’s most established sides San Lorenzo, now must endure shockwaves of overwhelming distress, with uncertainties whether or not the club, which was on the verge of entering a period of potential long-term success on Brazil’s and South America’s biggest stage, will ever play another game of football again with this tragedy inevitably drowning the club in its shadows for years to come.
From within the dark pits of a tragic event like such, come resiliance and solidarity, as the world recognises this extends much further than the pitch and equally what a mammoth task is ahead in restoring the dignity and pride of one of Brazil’s emerging footballing giants.
Amongst the umpteen condolences Chapecoense have received by various football clubs and their fans around the globe, gestures which demonstrate just how unified the footballing community are, have flooded the Brazilian team in the aftermath of the devastation, in an effort of ensuring that their future is secure.
AC Nacional, the Colombian side whom Chapecoense were scheduled to play in a two-legged final over the next week, have requested the 2016 Copa Sudamericano trophy is retrospectively awarded to the Brazilian club. Obviously it is impossible to predict how the two matches would have played out, but this is a gesture of immense kindness, and one which if the South American footballing body approves of, will posthumously award the fatalities but also the remainder of the players from Chapecoense FC much more than a winners medal, but a token of remembrance, respect and solitude.
This has also prompted a request from all of the major sides in the Brazilian league (the likes of Sao Paulo and Fluminese, teams which Chapecoense had finished above this season), to grant them immunity from relegation for the next three years, in an attempt to allow them the greatest chance possible to effectively rebuild their football club. This, coupled with many clubs in Brazil also stating they’ll send players to Chapecoense on loan for the following seasons, free of charge, amplifies the unity shown, epitomises everything good about football and restores hope into a game which is so heavily tainted through greed and corruption.
With rumours circulating that the footballing superpower, Paris St. Germain, may also be donating 40 million euros to the damaged and distraught Brazilian outfit, with other potentially following in suit, these gestures breaks all stereotypes about modern football, proving what seems like a corporate money making scheme, is drained of all compassion, love and desire, does in fact still have all of this remaining when it’s needed most.
As the arch above Wembley is bathed in the colours of Chapecoense tonight, it is a poignant reminder to all that football stretches much further than the pitch.
One world, one game.