The bodies of players, coaches and staff from a Brazilian football team tragically wiped out in a plane crash in Colombia arrived home Saturday for a massive funeral.
Fireworks lit up the sky over the stadium in Chapeco, in southern Brazil, as the Hercules cargo planes touched down at the city’s airport in pouring rain.
The small city is holding a huge funeral to honor its team, Chapecoense Real — an unsung club having a fairytale season until the plane flying it to the biggest match in its history ran out of fuel and smashed into the mountains outside Medellin on Monday night.
The city is expecting some 100,000 people — half its population — to descend on Conda Arena, the stadium where just 10 days ago Chapecoense were lighting up the pitch.
“I came to pay a final tribute from the fans to our team,” said architect Alexandre Bledin, 34, wearing the club’s green and white jersey.
“I still can’t believe what happened.” The arrival was delayed by an outpouring of emotion along the way.
A military guard of honor receives the coffins of the members of the Chapecoense Real football club team killed in a plane crash in Colombia, upon their arrival at the airport of Chapeco, in Santa Catarina, southern Brazil.
The coach of the Brazilian national team, Tite, and FIFA chief Gianni Infantino will attend the memorial at the stadium. The latter canceled a trip to Australia to be there. – ‘My son was all passion’ – The crash has left the football world in mourning. Football legends Pele and Maradona as well as current superstars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have led tributes to the fallen team in recent days. A minute’s silence for Chapecoense will be held before every Champions League and Europa League game next week.