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Chapecoense vow to rebuild team after airline accident

Fans gather in the streets to pay tribute to Chapecoense players, in Chapeco, yesterday.

Fans gather in the streets to pay tribute to Chapecoense players, in Chapeco, yesterday.

The vice-president of Brazilian top flight side Chapecoense has vowed to get the club back on its feet and playing again next year after a plane crash in Colombia wiped out almost the entire squad.

Colombia’s worst air disaster in two decades killed all but six people as the Chapecoense team flew to face Atletico Nacional, of Medellin, in the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final, South America’s equivalent of the UEFA Europa League.

Club vice president Ivan Tozzo told Brazil’s Globoesporte website he was determined to rebuild Chapecoense and play in the Brazilian league again next year.

“We are going to have to restructure the club, sign new players, hold lots of meetings and have lots of patience to keep going in the Brasileiro, a tournament that is very important to us,” Tozzo said.

“We intend on continuing next year.”

The BAe 146 charter plane went down about 10.15pm on Monday with 68 passengers and a crew of nine on board. The aircraft had reported electrical problems and declared an emergency minutes earlier as it neared its destination, Medellin airport officials said.

While talk of football has been muted as fans, players and officials come to terms with the tragedy, starting afresh would not be a new experience for the club.

Chapecoense almost went to the wall at the start of the century but battled back to rise from the fourth to the first division in just five years, including two consecutive promotions in seasons 2012 and 2013.

The small club from Chapeco in southern Brazil will be aided in their comeback by other senior teams, a group of whom called for the club to be exempt from relegation for three years.

In a statement published by several of the country’s top sides, including league champions Palmeiras, club presidents also said they would loan players to help Chapecoense get back playing again.

“It is the minimum gesture of solidarity that is within our reach at this point in time but it is borne of the sincerest desire to reconstruct this institution and that part of Brazilian football that was lost today,” the statement said.

Only three of the players who flew north for the Copa Sudamericana final against Atletico Nacional survived the crash in the mountains outside Medellin.

The offer to help came as clubs across Brazil put aside old rivalries to show their solidarity with the stricken side.

Even teams whose most hated rivals play in green turned their stadiums and their websites green on Tuesday night in respect for Chapecoense.

Corinthians, who once looked at the possibility of dying their pitch a different colour because Palmeiras play in green, turned their home page a bright shade of emerald.

Atletico Paranaense overlooked their rivalry with Coritiba to light their stadium green in tribute to the fallen Chapecoense players and staff.

Soccer crash survivors treated in Colombia

Doctors have treated survivors of Monday’s air crash in Colombia that killed 71 people and wiped out Brazil’s Chapecoense soccer team en route to a cup final.

Only six people – three players, a journalist and two crew members – survived the crash when Chapecoense’s charter plane, a BAe 146, hit a mountain en route to their Copa Sudamericana showdown in Medellin.

All were being treated at local hospitals.

Of the players, goalkeeper Jackson Follmann was recovering from the amputation of his right leg, doctors said.

Another player, defender Helio Neto, remained in intensive care with severe trauma to his skull, thorax and lungs. Fellow defender Alan Ruschel had spine surgery.

Colombia’s El Tiempo newspaper cited crews from planes approaching Medellin airport on Monday night as saying the pilot of Chapecoense’s flight shouted over the radio that he was running out of fuel and needed to make an emergency landing.

Shortly afterward the pilot told the control tower he was experiencing electrical difficulties before the radio went silent.

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