It was a mix of sadness and joy as grief-stricken Chapecoense received the 2016 Copa Sudamericana trophy.
Chapecoense were named winners of the Copa Sudamericana by South American football’s governing body CONMEBOL earlier in December after a plane carrying the Brazilian squad, technical commission and a number of journalists for the first leg of the final against Atletico Nacional crashed en route to Medellin two days before the match was due to take place, killing 71 people on board.
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New president Plinio David de Nes Filho raised the trophy during the draw for the 2017 Copa Sudamericana and Libertadores on Wednesday, before calling Nacional representative Daniel Jimenez – wearing a Chapecoense scarf – to the stage as the pair shared an emotional and warm embrace.
De Nes Filho thanked the footballing community for their support and solidarity throughout, especially Colombia’s Nacional, who had called on CONMEBOL to award the Copa Sudamericana to Chapecoense following the tragedy.
“I would like to thank everyone, all the nations. But let me, in a very special way, a very tender and grateful way, on behalf of our club, Chape, to share the trophy we just received with the one who gave us this possibility, with their gesture of humanity and respect. Of dignity and demonstration of kindness,” De Nes Filho said before holding the trophy together with Jimenez.
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Later in the evening, following a tribute video celebrating the team’s road to the final, Chapecoense were drawn in Group Seven in next year’s Libertadores, alongside Uruguay’s Nacional, Lanus of Argentina and Venezuelan outfit Zulia.
Chapecoense are set to return to playing against Internacional de Lages in the Campeonato Catarinense on January 29.
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That match is scheduled four days after a friendly between Brazil and Colombia to raise money for Chapecoense, who will also take on Spanish champions Barcelona in next year’s Joan Gamper Trophy.