Chapecoense: Brazilian team play their first game since plane crash

Helio Neto (L), Jackson Follmann (2nd-R) and Alan Ruschel (R), survivors of the LaMia airplane crash in Colombia, arrive at the Arena Conda stadium in Chapeco,
Neto (left), Jackson Follmann (second right) and Alan Ruschel (right) arrive at the Arena Conda stadium in Chapeco

Chapecoense have played their first game since most of their team were killed in a plane crash on 29 November.

Seventy-one people, including 19 players and staff, were killed as the Brazilian team travelled to Colombia for the final of the Copa Sudamericana.

The team recruited 22 new players and hosted Brazilian league champions Palmeiras in Saturday's friendly.

Three players who survived the crash, received the Copa Sudamericana before the game at the Arena Conda stadium.

Defenders Neto and Alan Ruschel and goalkeeper Jackson Follmann, who had his leg amputated, were among the six survivors.

They received the trophy and medals alongside families of the victims in front of 20,000 fans at Chapecoense's sold-out stadium, while another survivor, radio reporter Rafael Henzel, commentated on the game.

The club gave 241 journalists from around the world accreditation for the game.

The game stopped on 71 minutes as players from both teams and supporters stood and clapped in honour of the victims, before continuing with the match.

Chapecoense plane crash timeline
29 November 2016: Chapecoense team in plane crash
3 December 2016: Fans unite for stadium memorial
5 December 2016: Team awarded Copa Sudamericana
26 December 2016: Colombia blames human error

Chapecoense were awarded the Copa Sudamericana trophy following the disaster, a move backed by Colombian club Atletico Nacional, who were scheduled to face them in the final.

To rebuild the side, sporting director Rui Costa has recruited 22 players, most of them on loan, and appointed Vagner Mancini as manager.

Douglas Grolli scored Chapecoense's first goal and Amaral added a second as they drew 2-2 with Palmeiras.

Half of the match proceeds will go to the families of those killed, while the rest will be used to rebuild the club.

Chapecoense survivor saw crash in dream

At the scene: Julia Carneiro, BBC News

In the days that followed the plane crash in November, the Conda Arena became a site of mourning. Fans gathered with blank expressions; vigils were held with cathartic chanting. It culminated in the collective funeral services bringing together over 50 coffins to the stadium.

Today's events were completely different, yet irrevocably linked to that day. It was all about remembering what happened, before and during the match.

In the ceremony held before kick-off, families of the crash victims received medals in their honour, and the three players who survived received the Copa Sudamericana final. They cried on the pitch, and the fans cried on the stands.

Then 71 minutes into the game, the match was interrupted to remember the 71 victims. An stadium announcer said a similar tribute would be paid in every Chapecoense match from now on.

The fans were keen to celebrate their home team again and showed their support to the newcomers - but on the stands and on the pitch, it was clear that Chapecoense's drive to move forward will always mean looking back.

Follmann lifts the Copa Sudamericana
chapecoense players
Neto, Follmann and Ruschel prepare to receive the trophy
chapecoense players
Follmann and Ruschel were in tears at the trophy presentation
Relatives of the victims lift the trophy
Relatives of the victims lift the trophy
The new players of Chapecoense pose
The new players of Chapecoense pose before kick-off
Fans at the Arena Conda stadium
Fans at the Arena Conda stadium
Chapecoense's player Amaral (2nd R) celebrates with team-mates after scoring against Palmeiras
Amaral celebrates with team-mates after scoring against Palmeiras


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