SPORT

A Small, Big-Hearted Gesture Which Meant The World To Chapecoense

They're officially Copa Sudamericana champs, and it was their rivals that lobbied for it.

06/12/2016 3:32 PM AEDT | Updated 06/12/2016 4:01 PM AEDT
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Colombians like this boy and his mother were all supportive of Chapecoense being awarded the Cup.

Chapecoense has won the Copa Sudamericana.

The Brazilian club had been travelling to the away leg of the two-leg final of the prestigious South American club championship when its plane crashed just short of Medellín, Colombia last week -- killing 71 people, including 19 players.

Chapecoense was going to play Colombian side Atlético Nacional. But in a wonderful sporting gesture, they called for Chapecoense to be awarded the cup after the tragedy. The South American Football Confederation (Conmebol) has now acceded to this request, declaring Chapecoense Copa Sudamericana champions for 2016.

Conmebol also announced it has awarded Nacional the Centennial Conmebol Fair Play award of $US 1 million.

"For Conmebol there is no greater example of the spirit of peace, understanding and fair play set forth as an objective of our institution than the solidarity, consideration and respect shown by Atlético National towards its brothers from Chapecoense," the body said in a statement.

Other clubs have also shown great sportsmanship towards the devastated Brazilian club, which as we reported last week, was batting well above its average in reaching such a major final. Strong Brazilian clubs will loan players to Chapecoense players for free in the 2017 season, and the club will not be subject to relegation to Serie B of the Brazilian championship for the next three seasons.

The awarding of the Copa Sudamericana to Chapecoense follows a week in which a moving memorial service was held at Chapecoense's home stadium in drenching rain in the Brazilian city of Chapeco.

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Obrigado means thanks in Portuguese.

Before the memorial, the mother of goalkeeper Marcos Danilo Padilha, who died in hospital after calling his wife, said "the feeling is horrible... that my son is going to enter here in a coffin".

But she also said she felt like she'd lost one son but gained thousands, on account of the support of the entire Brazilian people.

Meanwhile in the latest sign of international solidarity, Chelsea's Brazilian players Willian and David Luiz held up armbands displaying "Forcachape" (Go Chape) after Willian scored against Manchester City on the weekend.

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