Three years on from tragic plane crash, Chapecoense suffer relegation

The Brazilian side has dropped out of the top flight.

The Chapecoense team [file pic].
The Chapecoense team [file pic].
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

CHAPECOENSE COACH MARQUINHOS Santos apologised to fans after they were relegated from the Brasileirao three years on from a tragic plane crash that devastated the club.

Wednesday’s 1-0 defeat at home to Botafogo confirmed Chapecoense will drop out of Brazil’s top flight, six years after their promotion from Serie B.

The club’s relegation came almost three years to the day after the plane carrying players, staff and journalists to Colombia for the Copa Sudamericana final crashed, killing 71 of the 77 people on board.

Marquinhos, who took charge in September, felt the writing had long been on the wall for Chape despite back-to-back 1-0 wins giving them some hope prior to Wednesday’s loss.

I have to apologise to the fans,” he said. “The people who work here are good professionals. It’s a reconstruction of the true Chapecoense – that’s the feeling I have.

“I’m sure Chapecoense will return to the national stage much stronger.

“We’ve failed to do many things in the competition. It’s a competition that doesn’t allow you to make as many mistakes as we did.

“We knew our responsibility in today’s game and we were not competent enough to give some hope. It’s sad. It’s a situation brought about by many games.

“Chapecoense did not go down today – they started going down after the first round [of matches] because of the mistakes we made. Now, we have to review the whole process, restart and recover.”

Founded in 1973 in Santa Catarina, Chapecoense’s finest accomplishment was reaching the Copa Sudamericana final in 2016.

They were awarded the trophy by CONMEBOL, a decision backed by opponents Atletico Nacional, amid an outpouring of support from the football world in the wake of the plane crash.

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Barcelona staged the Joan Gamper Trophy match against Chape to help with their efforts to rebuild the team, while a number of Brasileirao sides offered to loan players for free to help them complete the domestic season.

Chape finished 11th in 2016 and eighth a year later, before dropping to 14th in 2018.

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