SAO PAULO: Air disaster club Chapecoense have been assured they will be named Copa Sudamericana champions after their team was wiped out on Monday night while flying to play the final against Colombia’s Atletico Nacional.
The assurance was issued by the club’s acting president, Ivan Tozzo, after discussions South American football’s governing body CONMEBOL.
Tozzo also said that the club would receive the $2m in prize money available to the winners of the continent’s No2 club competition which would be shared among families of the 71 victims who include players, officials and journlists.
Tozzo was speaking after a wake was held over more than 50 coffins at the club’s Arena Conda in southern Brazil.
The disaster was marked around the world over the weekend with clubs wearing black armbands and playing games after a one-minute silence.
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.
Six people survived, including three club players, two aircrew and one journalists.
Air Force troops, after unloading the coffins from a cargo aircraft, brought them to makeshift tents erected on the pitch where victims’ families sat.
President Michel Temer, who flew in from Brazil’s capital at dawn to receive the caskets at a Chapeco airfield, bestowed posthumous honours on the deceased players.
Chapecoense hung a huge black banner from the outer wall of the stadium stating: “We looked for one word to thank all the kindness and we found many,” it read, followed by the words ‘thankyou’ in more than a dozen languages.
The families have been outraged by reports that the plane, which circled for 16 minutes while another aircraft emergency landed, had barely enough fuel for the flight.
Bolivian President Evo Morales has pledged to take “drastic measures” to determine the cause. Bolivia has suspended the operating licence of the LaMia charter company and replaced the national aviation authority’s management.
Earlier in the week, Atletico led calls for the Copa to be awarded to their opponents who were competing in an international competition for only the second season.