Chapecoense fans mourn players lost in crash

Agencies | 2016-11-30 11:34

Chapecoense fans mourn players lost in crash

Fans of the Brazilian soccer team Chapecoense attend a gathering in Chapeco, Santa Catarina, Brazil, Nov 29, 2016. A chartered plane carrying the Brazilian soccer team Chapecoense crashed into a Colombian hillside and broke into pieces, Colombian officials said Tuesday. [Photo/IC]

CHAPECO - Thousands of grieving fans in green and white filled the Chapecoense stadium in remote southern Brazil on Tuesday, singing their team's praises and chanting one by one the names of players who lost their lives in a plane crash a day earlier.

"We are champions!" they cried as club staff and relatives of the deceased joined hands in a circle at midfield, part of an impromptu ceremony that swung between mourning for the lives lost and pride in the unlikely feats of their fallen heroes.

Less than a week ago, the streets of this small farming city rang with cheers and firecrackers as the team punched its ticket to the final of the Sudamericana Cup, capping a fairy tale rise from Brazil's fourth division in 2009.

The excitement turned to tragedy late on Monday when the team's charter flight crashed near Medellin en route to the final against Colombia's Atletico Nacional, the biggest game in Chapecoense's history.

"We've passed from a dream into a nightmare," said metalworker Fernando de Oliveira, who left work to bring his crying wife and two children to the stadium in a show of support.

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