Chapecoense vows to compete, possibly with borrowed players
CHAPECO, Brazil (AP) — Six players, a handful of support staff, and deep sorrow are all that remain of Brazil’s Chapecoense soccer club.
They will still try to play again. Because they know that’s what their 19 teammates who died when a charter plane ripped into an Andean mountainside would want them to do.
“In the memory of those who died and to honor their families, we will rebuild this club from scratch so it is even stronger,” club director and local businessman Cecilio Hans said. “We had material assets and human assets. Now we’ve lost nearly all of our human assets.”
Other clubs in Brazil’s top league are offering to loan players to Chapecoense, with a proposal that the modest club in deep southern Brazil is guaranteed to stay in the top division for the next three years.
“The club will rebuild, I am sure,” said Walter Feldman, secretary general of the Brazilian Football Confederation. “Eight clubs have already called me to offer concrete, material solidarity. We are studying ways to best help.”
Monday’s crash occurred as the team was on its way to the two-game final of the Copa Sudamericana — the No. 2 tournament on the continent. Only three players survived, and all are recovering at a hospital in Colombia: defender Hélio Zampier, commonly known as Neto, defender-midfielder Alan Ruschel and goalkeeper Jakson Follmann, whose right leg had to be amputated on Tuesday.
Chape, as the team is called locally, reached the top of South American soccer without any superstars — no high-profile players from Brazil’s celebrated national team. It was in Brazil’s fourth division just seven years ago, climbing into the first division by 2014. Now it starts the climb again, and this one is even steeper.
Goalkeeper Marcelo Boeck said he and several players had deals to leave the club new one next year. He said they’re reconsidering.