Chapecoense Will Finally Play Against Atlético Nacional, Four Months After Devastating Plane Crash

Lead Photo: Photo: Getty
Photo: Getty
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Four months after the tragic plane crash that claimed the lives of 77, including 71 involved with the club, Chapecoense will finally get to play Atlético Nacional in a cup match. In a Twitter statement on Tuesday, the Brazilian club announced that they will take on the Colombian side in the Recopa Sudamericana, which serves as the continent’s equivalent to the UEFA SuperCup.

Since Atlético won the 2016 Copa Libertadores, they take on Chapecoense, who was awarded the Copa Sudamericana after the crash that killed 19 of its players. The Colombian club petitioned CONMEBOL to give the Sudamericana title to Chape following the cancellation of the final, and the South American federation officially awarded the trophy to the Brazilian side a week after the crash.

The first leg of the Recopa will take place in Chapeco on April 4, after the club was given a special exception to the rule that continental finals must be played in stadiums with a capacity of 40,000 or more (the city’s stadium, Arena Conda, seats 22,000). In a statement released on Tuesday, CONMEBOL said that the city of Chapeco wanted to “pay, in their own city, a special tribute to Atlético Nacional for their actions of solidarity and support offered at the time of the air crash.”

The return leg will take place in Medellin on May 10.

Since the November tragedy, Chapecoense has received support from the international soccer community, helping them to stay afloat as they transitioned to the new season. Brazilian teams petitioned the league to allow Chapecoense free loans of players as well as an exemption from relegation for three years, although the club rejected the latter condition. FC Barcelona has also invited Chapecoense to participate in the annual Joan Gamper Trophy game this August, while also pledging to help the club return to the level of competition exhibited prior to the crash.

Chapecoense is currently locked in a four-way tie in Copa Libertadores group play, having split the first two games of the 2017-2018 campaign.