By AFPNovember 30, 2016Latest : Sports
Chapecó, Brazil: Thousands of Brazilians who had been expecting to spend Wednesday night cheering their beloved Chapecoense football team in its hour of glory were instead gathering at the home stadium to mourn the dead players.
The reality of late Monday´s crash in the Colombian mountains of a charter plane carrying the team to a regional championship final against Atletico Nacional in Medellin had yet to sink in fully.
Fans in the provincial city of Chapeco in southern Brazil donned the club´s green and white shirt and tried to absorb the sudden absence of a team that had been about to crown its dream season with a shot at the Copa Sudamericana title.
"Chapeco is not a big city. We would meet (the players) in the street, anywhere. It´s hard to keep going. It was already hard yesterday. The city is devastated," said teacher Aline Fonseca, 21.
"We´re not putting on loud music, not listening to anything," Fonseca said.
Later Wednesday, those same fans were to mass in the Chapecoense stadium, which has been draped in black ribbons.
The first bodies are not expected to be flown back from Colombia, where they are being identified, until later this week.
However, the fans will be meeting in the stands at the exact moment when Chapecoense was meant to have been kicking off against Atletico Nacional in Medellin for the first leg of the final in the continent´s number two tournament.
The crash of the charter plane close to its destination killed 71 people, including 20 Brazilian sports journalists traveling to cover what would have been a remarkable occasion for a club that rose from the lower leagues to contend in the top tier.
Team officials and family members were bracing to receive the bodies by the end of the week. The dead were due to be laid out on the football pitch before being taken away by relatives, a spokesman for the club told G1 news site.
"It´s still hard to believe. I think we´ll only really take it in when the dead arrive. We are in deep sorrow," said Valemar Jardine, 50, who runs a newsstand.