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Neymar, Pele and Schweinsteiger show sympathy for Colombian plane crash victims

Bastian Schweinsteiger, Neymar and Pele are among those who have expressed their condolences to the Chapecoense players who died in a plane crash in Colombia. The Brazilian club were en route to a Copa Sudamericana game.

Schweinsteiger and current Germany internationals Thomas Müller and Ilkay Gündogan were among numerous footballers from all over the world who shared their sympathy on social media, with most using the #ForcaChape hashtag and posting a picture of the Brazilian club's badge.

A number of Chapecoense players were among 81 people on board the doomed flight that crashed into mountains in northwestern Colombia.

 

The top flight Brazilian club have enjoyed a fairytale rise in recent years and were flying to Colombia to take on Atletico Nacional of Medellin in their first continental final when tragedy struck.

In a touching sporting gesture, their scheduled opponents sent an official tweet asking that the Copa Sudamericana (South America's equivalent of the Europa League) title be awarded to Chapecoense.

Italian club Torino lost 18 players in the Superga air crash in May 1949. They expressed their solidarity with their Brazilian counterparts, as did English giants Manchester United, who suffered the loss of eight players and three staff members in the Munich air disaster of 1958.

Brazil has declared three days of national mourning after the tragedy, football matches have been postponed and all the country's top flight teams changed their official Twitter profile pictures to a black logo of the Chapecoense badge.  

Pele, the Brazilian forward regarded by some as the best footballer ever, expressed the mood of the nation with a tweet of his own.

The star of the current Brazilian generation, Neymar, wrote of his disbelief at the events on Instagram.

"It's impossible to believe this tragedy, impossible to believe what happened, impossible to believe that the plane crashed, impossible to believe that athletes, human beings were on this plane, impossible to believe that these people left their families. Today the world cries, but heaven rejoices in receiving champions," he wrote.

For those Chapecoense players who didn't board the flight, emotions are understandably mixed.

Argentine winger Alejandro Martinuccio is carrying an injury that ruled him out of the fixture but likely saved his life.

He told Argentina's La Red radio that "I was saved because I got injured. I feel profound sadness," he said. "The only thing I can ask is prayers for the companions who were on the flight."

 

mp/msh (Reuters, AP)

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