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Who are Chapecoense, the Brazilian team whose fairytale season turned into a tragedy?

The side were travelling to Colombia for the Copa Sudamericana final.

Chapecoense players celebrate after beating San Lorenzo in the Copa Sudamericana semi-finals.
Chapecoense players celebrate after beating San Lorenzo in the Copa Sudamericana semi-finals.
Image: Andre Penner/AP/Press Association Images

IT SHOULD HAVE been the greatest moment in a young club’s history.

Instead, it has turned out to be the darkest.

Chapecoense, the Brazilian team whose plane went down about 50km from Medellin, Colombia’s second largest city today, were on their way to play Atletico Nacional in the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final, the equivalent of the Europa League.

Formed in 1973 in the city of Chapecó, Chapecoense won their first state title in 1977 and claimed a fifth success this year.

However, they have struggled in their short history and as recently as eight seasons ago were playing in the fourth tier of Brazilian football.

In 2014 though, they were promoted to Serie A for the first time since 1979 after finishing second to Palmeiras in Serie B.

Last week they defeated Argentina’s San Lorenzo on away goals to book their spot in the Copa Sudamericana final.

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Spain Soccer Champions League Cleber Santana during a Champions League game with Chelsea in 2009. Source: AP/Press Association Images

Among the teams most notable players is club captain Cleber Santana.

The 35-year-old central midfielder spent three years with Atletico Madrid before returning to Sao Paulo in 2010.

Plane carrying Brazilian football team Chapecoense Real crashes in Colombia

About the author:

Steve O'Rourke

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