This post has nothing to do with Fiorentina, but even in something as seemingly trivial as sports, some stories must be told, even when we wish we didn’t have to tell them. Early Tuesday morning, a chartered plane on its way from Brazil to Medellín' Colombia crashed following an electrical malfunction. Of the 81 people on board, 76 were killed. On board was Brazilian club Associação Chapecoense de Futebol, who were on their way to play the first leg of the 2016 Copa Sudamericana final against Atlético Nacional, the first international final in club history.
Chapecoense were founded in 1973 following the merger of two local clubs in Chapecó, Santa Catarina. They have won the state championship, the Campeonato Catarinense five times, most recently this year, and have played in the Brazilian first division, Série A, since 2014, following an absence since 1979. They were playing in the fourth division in 2009.
This historic Chapecoense team’s highlight however, has been their run in the 2016 Copa Sudamericana, the second most important cup competition in CONMEBOL - think a stronger version of the Europa League for those unfamiliar with South American football. Against all odds, Chapecoense was on their way to the final, having knocked out Argentine giants Independiente and San Lorenzo along the way.
The five survivors include three players, Alan Ruschel, Jakson Follman and Zampier Neto. Among the other victims were 21 journalists traveling with the team.
Football clubs and players have expressed their grief any way they can on social media today. Atlético Nacional have made a formal request that Chapecoense be awarded the trophy.
Veteran coach Caio Junior is reported to have told journalists before boarding the flight, "If I should die today, I would be happy." He had previously compared his team to Leicester City in their ability to make history against all odds.
It shouldn’t have ended this way. The least we can do is remember what should have been one of the best football stories of the year, a small club that was ready to defy all odds against them.