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Chapecoense will be ‘rebuilt even stronger’ in memory of lost team-mates

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Fans gathered at the Chapecoense stadium in Chapeco and at the Atletico Nacional stadium in Medellin

Chapecoense will be “rebuilt from scratch” after the majority of their squad died in a plane crash, the club’s director has said.

The Brazilian team’s plane crashed on its approach to Medellin, Colombia on Monday, with authorities saying the aircraft might have run out of fuel.

Nineteen players and coaching staff were among the 71 who died, while three players were among the six survivors.

The team are due to play their last game of the season on 11 December.

Chapecoense’s acting president Ivan Tozzo said the club hopes to play that match against Atletico Mineiro using reserve and academy players.

The team were travelling to Medellin to play Atletico Nacional in the final of the Copa Sudamericana on Wednesday evening, the biggest match in their history.

“In the memory of those who died and to honour their families, we will rebuild this club from scratch so it is even stronger,” said club director Cecilio Hans.

Chapecoense were in the Brazilian fourth tier in 2009, but had recently made themselves a national force before their run in South American football’s secondary continental competition – the equivalent of the Europa League.

Three of Brazil’s leading clubs have said they will offer players to Chapecoense.

Sao Paulo, who have won six national titles, also said Chapecoense should be exempt from relegation to Brazilian football’s second tier for the next three seasons as they attempt to rebuild the club.

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Neto was the only survivor of the Chapecoense starting XI which played in the Copa Sudamericana semi-final second leg on 23 November. The team drew the match to reach the final in Medellin.

Of the survivors, defenders Alan Ruschel and Neto remain in a stable but critical condition, with the former having had spinal surgery. Goalkeeper Jakson Ragnar Follmann has had his leg amputated and could lose his other foot.

There were nine players who did not travel.

One of those, reserve goalkeeper Marcelo Boeck, said he and several players had deals to leave the club next year, but are now reconsidering.

“We know this is a different moment, and we are part of it,” he said. “We hope we can help rebuild in the memory of our team.”

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The recording captures the final moments of the plane before it crashed.

‘A difficult task’

South American football expert Tim Vickery on Radio 5 live.

The great Torino side in 1949 was wiped out in a plane crash – they received a lot of solidarity afterwards. But you look at their subsequent history and you see how difficult the challenge has been for them.

Chapecoense are a much smaller team from a small town, so even with all this solidarity, it is a very difficult task for a club, a fairytale club from a small town that came so far in such a short time. Ten years ago they weren’t even in Brazil’s top four professional divisions. This final was to have been the game of their lives – destiny decided they would be denied the opportunity to live out that dream.

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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/38166925