[Opinion] Following the crash of an airplane in Colombia which killed the majority of the members of the Brazilian football team Chapecoense, there was an united outpouring of grief and respect from the footballing world.
It was supposed to be the fairy tale trip.
For a team that was only promoted to Brazil’s top division in 2014 to be contesting the final of the Copa Sudamericana just two years later was unbelievable.
Yet that was the prospect that was facing Chapecoense. It was billed as the biggest match in the history of the relatively small club.
Even more so when they became the first Brazilian team in three years to make it to the final of the Copa Sudamericana after beating Argentine side San Lorenzo last week.
However, tragedy struck as the team flew from Bolivia to Medellin, Colombia for the first leg of the game.
The chartered airline they were travelling on suffered an electrical fault and crashed outside the Colombian capital.
The aircraft had 72 passengers and nine crew on board. Six survivors were pulled from the wreckage, with Chapecoense goalkeeper Danilo later dying of his injuries in hospital.
What was meant to be a fairy tale journey in the club’s history had ended in tragedy.
However, in a display of compassion that helps maintain faith in the footballing world, clubs and professionals around the world rallied in support of the Brazilian team.
Clubs and players alike took to social media to offer messages of remembrance and condolences.
Footballing giants Real Madrid and Barcelona, despite having little in the way of a direct connection with Chapecoense, both held a minutes silence before their training sessions.
Newcastle United, who play an EFL Cup game against Hull later today, have also announced they will hold a minutes silence prior to the game, while their players will all wear black armbands as a mark of respect.
CONMEBOL, South America’s football association, have temporarily suspended all football competitions as a sign of respect. Fellow teams in Brazil have said they will give players to Chapecoense so that they can continue as a club.
In a statement released by the presidents of the other Brazilian top-division clubs, they called for a time of solidarity among teams, offering free loans of players to Chapecoense for the 2017 season, as well as issuing a request to the Brazilian FA to exclude Chapecoense from relegation from the top division for the next three seasons.
Chapecoense’s opponents in the Copa Sudamericana, Colombia’s Atletico National, is understood to have asked, in light of the tragedy, for the trophy to be awarded to Chapecoense, according to the competition’s organisers.
These actions all come together to show a football community, despite so often being dragged into controversy, that is still united in the face of tragedy.
Football has suffered numerous controversies, particularly over money and malpractice, in recent years.
FIFA was torn apart and rocked by corruption scandals, while the English FA just this week has seen the emergence of a historic child sex abuse scandal among youth coaches.
Yet, for all the negatives and scandals, when true tragedy strikes a club and member of the footballing community, as has happened with Chapecoense, the whole footballing world rallies around and supports its own.
For all the money in football these days, human life and compassion still trumps all else when true heartbreak strikes.
That stands as a testament to modern day football. That despite the bad sides, there still exists heart and compassion at its core.
It’s just a tragedy that it takes such horrific and heartbreaking circumstances to drag it to the surface.