Cinderella story ends in heartbreak

An incredible underdog story ends in the worst possible way.

Assoçiãcao Chapecoense de Futebol wins the semi-final match

Assoçiãcao Chapecoense de Futebol wins the semi-final match

Tragedy has struck the soccer world.  The Chapecoense soccer team, that has made quite a splash this soccer season, was on their way to their first Copa Sundamericana final.  This is one of the biggest soccer tournaments in South America.

On the way to play in the final, the team’s plane crashed in some mountains in Columbia.  The plane was 22 miles away from the airport when it crashed.  With 77 people aboard, only six survived.  Three of those survivors were players on the team.

The site of the plane crash. (photo credit by Tucson.com)
The site of the plane crash.
(photo credit by Tucson.com)

This team was founded in 1973 and have been playing in the lower division of South American soccer until just about nine years ago.

Senior member of Elder’s soccer team, Sam Collins said, “I was somewhat familiar with the club and knew that their team was young and filled with talent.”

“I was very surprised, and even more surprised to hear that the plane they were on, carried the Argentinian National team only a month ago,” said Collins.  “This is just an unfortunate tragedy and soccer players, coaches, and fans all over the world will remember this team for a long time because of their young, exciting, contagious spirit for the sport of soccer.”

The team’s full name is Assoçiãcao Chapecoense de Futebol.  They are based in a small city of 200,000 people, called Chapecoa.  The club plays at a 22,000 seat stadium but until recently only about 7,000 people would show up to the games.  This season they scored 52 points on just 37 matches.

Soccer fan Brady Thompson said, “This was a young and exciting team and were on their way to a final in the south American equivalent of the champions league.  It is hard to believe this happened to such a young team.”

Young fan mourns the loss of the team (photo credit by Yahoo Sports)
Young fan mourns the loss of the team
(photo credit by Yahoo Sports)

In Medellin, where the final was going to be played, there was a crowd of 40,000 people who were there honoring those who lost their lives.  Many of those wore white and held flowers.

This is just an unfortunate tragedy and soccer players, coaches, and fans all over the world will remember this team for a long time because of their young, exciting, contagious spirit for the sport of soccer. ”

— Sam Collins

Atlético Nacional, the team that the Chapecoense were going to play, wants to give Assoçiãcao Chapecoense de Futebol the win.

Senior member of the Elder High School soccer team Andy Geigle said, “I was very shocked because I was at lunch with my dad when I heard the news. This is a tragedy that is going to be hard to come back from and I certainly won’t forget it.”

Brazil and countless others are still mourning the loss of these players and all those on the plane.  To add to the heartbreak of this story, one of the players, Tiago da Rocha Vieira Alvez found out that he was going to be a father just last week.

A team that was considered a Cinderella story, battling through the lower leagues in Brazil for decades, and finally getting a chance to put an exclamation on what would be a triumphant run and instead it ends in utter heartbreak.