Support floods in for Chapecoense
In the wake of the Colombia air disaster which claimed the lives of most members of Brazilian top-flight football team Chapecoense, including a majority of its players, head coach Caio Júnior and other members of its staff, there has been a very vocal outpouring of support for the club from around the globe. Teams from South America as well as Europe have come forward to help the Brazilian side as the club finds itself in a desperate situation in the wake of the disaster.
Victor Hugo, Chapecoense's team analyst, summed up the situation, saying: “We have to continue, there is no other choice. We will have to rebuild with 25 per cent of the people. We have only six players and four members of the technical committee left. It will be difficult, but we have prepared a goalkeeper, two physiotherapists and a medical staff. We have to start over again because we have no choice.”
While Hugo's words are true -- the club must find a way to survive -- it appeared that they would have no way of surviving in the top-flight Brazilian football. However, the other top-flight teams have turned to the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) and made three requests, one of which is to give Chapecoense immunity from relegation for the next three seasons.
A statement of solidarity was issued on Tuesday afternoon by the top-flight clubs, including powerhouses such as Santos, Corinthians, Sao Paulo and champions Palmeiras. Aside from the exemption from relegation, the clubs have also vowed to send free players on loan to Chapecoense during the 2017 season so that they may be able to fulfil their fixtures.
The clubs have further suggested that if Chapecoense still finish in the 20-team Serie A's drop zone, then the team in 16th place should be relegated in their place.
“It is the minimum gesture of solidarity that is at our disposal at the moment, but endowed with the sincere objective of reconstruction of this institution and the Brazilian football that was lost today. #ForçaChape,” the statement read.
Meanwhile, the South American Football Confederation [CONMEBOL] has drawn up plans to include Chapecoense in the Copa Libertadores 2017 and the South American Recopa.
Inclusion in both these tournaments is expected to hand the club a windfall as they both include large cash prizes that would help the team to rebuild, including a one million dollar participation fee for the Recopa.
The club's finances will be further boosted by the marked rise in their jersey sales as well. The Chapecoense home jersey has sold out for the first time in its history. Those lasted in outlets for only 12 hours after the crash.
Support has been flooding in from all corners of the world, including from the Argentine Football Federation which has said that the clubs under its governance would be willing to offer any assistance to the Brazilian side, including loan of players for free.
Portuguese heavyweights Benfica also released a statement on their website, expressing its willingness “to support Chapecoense in creating the conditions to alleviate suffering and overcome the loss of sport”, perhaps even through loaning a few players.
One of the most stunning shows of support has come from Paraguayan side Club Libertad, who have put all of their players on standby for Chapecoense, saying the Brazilian club may borrow their players for any tournament while they are in the process of rebuilding.
Alongside their initial requests to the CBF, new Brazilian champions Palmerias have also asked for permission to wear the Chapecoense shirt on the last matchday of the league.