South American football’s governing body CONMEBOL awarded the 2016 Copa Sudamericana championship to Brazil’s Chapecoense club after most of the team died in a plane crash in Colombia last week.
Only six people survived the crash en route to the final, which killed 71 passengers and crew, shocked football fans worldwide, and plunged Brazil into mourning.
Colombia’s Club Atletica Nacional, which would have played Chapecoense in the biggest game in the club’s history, asked for the trophy to be awarded to the Brazilian team to honor the victims, CONMEBOL said in a statement.
CONMEBOL’s council decided to honor that request with all of the “sport and economic prerogatives that entails,” the statement said. Club Atletico was also given a one-time Fair Play award.
As Sudamericana champions, Chapecoense will automatically play Libertadores champions Atletico Nacional for the Recopa Sudamericana next year.
They will also get a guaranteed spot in next year’s Copa Libertadores, South America’s equivalent of the Champions League.
Family and friends donning the team’s green and white colors grieved over 50 caskets flown to Chapeco for an open-air wake in the team’s stadium on Saturday. Chapecoense had ascended in a storybook tale from the minor leagues to reach the final of a major South American tournament.
A BAe146 regional airliner operated by Bolivian charter company LAMIA had radioed that it was running out of fuel before smashing into a hillside outside Medellin, Colombia.