Eleven Chapecoense soccer players who did not travel on the charter airplane that killed a total of 75 teammates and staff paid tribute to the victims at Arena Conda stadium in Colombia Wednesday, on what was supposed to be the club’s first-ever Copa Sudamericana finals match.
Walking hand-in-hand on the field and wiping away tears, the athletes took the field as thousands of fans expressed their condolences and respects with green-lit flares and applause. Chapecoense players and staff huddled at the center of the field for a moment of silence.
Fox Sports in Brazil, which had six employees on the plane, aired a black screen with the hashtag “90 minutes of silence” during what would have been the game’s broadcast.
The charter aircraft crashed into a mountainous area in the Antioquian municipality near the José María Córdova International Airport in MedellÍn, where the team was set to arrive. Seventy-five passengers and crew have all been confirmed dead, while six survived the crash.
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Atlético Nacional, the Colombian team that was set to play against the Brazilian team, had requested the trophy be awarded to Chapecoense on Tuesday. In a statement on its website, Nacional requested to have Chapecoense declared champion of the tournament in addition to canceling the finals.
“Pain overwhelms our hearts and mourning invades our thinking. There have been unfortunate times when we have been shocked with news that never wanted to be heard,” the statement read. “The accident of our brothers Chapecoense Soccer mark us for life and already leave an indelible mark in the Latin American and world football. All this was completely unexpected, so the pain. They treated all of them, players, coaches, journalists and crew, people with many dreams, so crying.”
In leaked recordings of the final minutes of the chartered flight, the pilot told air traffic controllers he had run out of fuel before crashing, according to Sports Illustrated. Moments before going silent, the pilot could be heard repeatedly requesting permission to land due to a “total electric failure” and lack of fuel.
Ximena Sanchez, a Bolivian flight attendant who survived the crash, reportedly told Arquimedes Mejia, who helped pull her from the wreckage, that the plane “ran out of fuel.”
“That was the only thing she told me,” Mejia told the Associated Press in a recent interview.