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Atletico Nacional supporters pay tribute to Chapecoense air crash victims

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 1 Dec 2016

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Atletico Nacional supporters packed their Estadio Atanasio Girardot home to pay tribute to the players and staff of Chapecoense that died in an air crash before their Copa Sudamericana final.

The flight was carrying members of the first-team squad as well as a number of journalists when it came down in Cerro Gordo, Colombia, killing 71 of the 77 people on board.

Of the survivors, goalkeeper Jackson Follman had a leg amputated as a result of the injuries he sustained, while defender Alan Ruschel had surgery on his spine.

Chapecoense were travelling to Colombia to face Atletico in the first leg of the second-tier continental final. Atletico have requested for their opponents to be crowned champions by CONMEBOL, South America’s governing body, as a mark of respect.

The club’s supporters also paid tribute to the victims by flocking to the ground, with Atletico players gathering around the centre circle to pay their own respects.

Vigils have been held out throughout Brazil, while several clubs have offered to loan Chapecoense players for free.

The club’s president, Ivan Tozzo, told a news conference on Wednesday: “This is really good. This information we are receiving.

“Our club receives one of the smallest budgets in Brazil, and we are not a very big team in Brazil, and we will need a lot of support from the clubs. We need support to rebuild our team.

“Because we lost most of our [squad], we’ll have to start all over again. Since 2009 we have been through the Serie D [fourth division] and we have reached the Serie A [first division].

“And from next week on we won’t have eleven players to enter the field.”

Veteran goalkeeper Nivaldo, 42, was not among the players that travelled with the squad and he told Globoesporte that he will now retire from football.

“I was supposed to go on the trip but ended up staying,” he said.

“Everything has a reason in life. I didn’t travel to Palmeiras (on Sunday), because it would make my farewell game to play here against Atletico Mineiro, when I would complete 300 games for the club.

“As there was a change in the trip, they would not return to Chapeco and instead go straight from Sao Paulo to Medellin. So Caio [the coach] said he would not take me.”

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