A charter plane traveling from Santa Cruz, Bolivia went down enroute to Medellin, Colombia, killing 71 of the 77 passengers aboard the aircraft on Nov. 28.
Among the dead were members of the Chapecoense men’s professional soccer team. Three players, two crew members, and one journalist survived the crash.
According to Colombian authorities, the crash was caused by a complete electrical failure and lack of jet fuel. Controversy arose in the aftermath of the crash after reports released the plane was not provided with enough fuel for the flight, leaving families outraged.
The team was traveling to compete in the Copa Sudamericana finals. The sudden tragedy prompted several prominent athletes and elite soccer clubs to offer their condolences to those affected.
Brazilian superstar Neymar and world famous Manchester United Football Club, among many others, sent out messages of support to Chapecoense.
Like clubs across the globe, the tragedy left the VCU men’s soccer team speechless.
“This affects the entire soccer community,” said senior defender Cedric Ekoue. “That could have been any soccer team in the world. Rest in peace brothers.”
The VCU men’s soccer team traveled by plane a total of three times during their 2015 season. During the 2016 college season, the Rams didn’t fly at all.
“It’s honestly crazy because of how much joy the game of soccer brings to the people of Brazil and the world,” said junior defender Rohan Roberts. “When tragedies like this happen, the global soccer community unites and it’s just an amazing sight to see.”
Other professional soccer teams within Brazil have reached out to Chapecoense, offering money and even players. Brazilian legend and soccer icon Ronaldinho publicly stated he would consider joining Chapecoense and play for the club for free.
On Saturday, Dec. 3 tens of thousands of Chapecoense fans packed into the Conda Arena stadium bearing flags and banners to support their fallen team for a memorial service.
The coffins of the fallen Chapecoense players and staff were met by Brazilian President Michel Temer and taken immediately to the stadium for the funeral.
“I can’t even imagine what it would be like to lose my teammates,” said junior goalkeeper Joseph Rice. “Teammates are basically family here at VCU, so I feel terrible for Chapecoense.”
There is an ongoing investigation into the fuel and communicative issues that may have played a role in the plane crash.
Elijah Lockaby, Contributing Writer
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