Fans gathered at the stadium of Brazilian club Chapecoense on Tuesday night, paying their respects to the victims and survivors of theplane crash that killed 19 of the team’s players a year ago.
A vigil will be held in the early hours of Wednesday at the Arena Conda stadium, where photos are being displayed of all 71 people killed in the crash. A Roman Catholic mass will follow later at the main church in the city of Chapeco.
Chapecoense’s plane went down en route to the club’s first ever South American tournament final in Colombia, after it ran out of fuel near Medellin, Colombia. It crashed late at night on November 28 local time, though it was already November 29 in Brazil, which is marking the anniversary on Wednesday.
Fans attend a ceremony in honour of the victims and survivors of the Chapecoense plane crash
The supporters gathered on Tuesday to pay their respects to the 71 people killed in the crash
The southern Brazilian team was later awarded the Copa Sudamericana title, South America’s second most prestigious soccer tournament.
Chape, as the club is universally known, issued a statement to explain why the one-year anniversary of the tragedy should be marked discreetly around Chapeco.
‘It is best to choose reflection and seek peace,’ the club said. ‘Our eternal champions deserve all the tributes, but on this day we need to be respectful with those that remain and with the good memories that need to be eternal.’
The Brazilian outfit’s quiet tribute will include 71 torches that will be lit on the pitch of its 20,000-seat stadium.
Several families of the victims have complained that the club has yet to pay them damages for the accident. The club has acknowledged the debts and said it is working to resolve the issue.
Women place candles in the sand outside the club’s Arena Conda stadium
On the pitch, the team is in better shape than many expected and is holding its own, managing to avoid relegation.
After refusing to accept immunity from relegation in Brazil’s top division, they could qualify for South America’s prestigious Copa Libertadores tournament on Sunday.
In May, Chape successfully defended its Santa Catarina state championship.
Chapeco’s vibrant meat-processing industry and other Brazilian clubs have helped to rebuild the team.
Chapecoense have rebuilt their team since the disaster and avoided relegation this season
‘The effort we made this year was beyond normal, so I can’t be anything but very happy for the club,’ said club chairman Plinio David de Nes, a club director who was one of several that was supposed to be aboard the flight. ‘But the loss of the families, of the friends, that is still with us.’
Chape’s season has had other glorious moments, including a friendly against Barcelona at the Camp Nou in August – a memorable 5-0 defeat.
Defender Alan Ruschel, one of the players who survived the crash, returned to action in that match.
Two other survivors are working hard to make a comeback in 2018. Defender Neto hopes to play for Chape early in the year, and goalkeeper Jackson Follmann, who lost part of his right leg, is now training to become a Brazilian Paralympic athlete.
It’s a year since the crash took the lives of 71 of the 77 people on board, including 19 players