The Brazilian football club Chapecoense has played its first match since a plane crash killed most of its players. The game was preceded by an emotional trophy presentation.
Thousands of fans were present as Chapecoense returned to the soccer field on Saturday for its first match since an air crash in Colombia in November decimated the team.
The game, which was the focus of much public and media attention, took place against Palmeiras on the Arena Conda stadium in Chapeco, which was decked out in the home side's green color for the occasion.
Before the match commenced, the three players who survived the crash were presented with the Copa Sudamericana trophy - the honor for which the team had been competing when the crash occurred, killing 19 members. All three men were in tears as they received the trophy, with Jackson Follman - the goalkeeper whose leg was amputated as a result of the crash - lifting the cup while seated in a wheelchair to sustained applause.
The widows of the players who were killed also received medals on behalf of their husbands in a moving ceremony.
Tragic end to a fairy-tale run
Only six people survived when the plane carrying the team to Colombia for the Copa Sudamerica final in Medellin ran out of fuel and crashed into a mountainside on November 28. Seventy-one people died, many of them players, officials and reporters on their way to the game against Atletico Nacional.
In the 71st minute of Saturday's game, the spectators were asked to stand and clap in homage to the victims. The crowd also called out the now famous "Vamos Chape!" chant.
The match ended in a 2-2 draw.
The Sudamerica title was awarded to Chapecoense in December after the final was cancelled. The team was in the midst of a fairy-tale run when the crash occurred, having risen in five years from the fourth division to Brazilian football's top tier.
The match in Medellin would have been Chapecoense's first major final.
tj/rc (AFP, Reuters)