Chapecoense crash survivor captains side in emotional return at Nou Camp

Brazilian side Chapecoense united the footballing world last year following a disastrous tragedy, with a plane crash killing 71 of 77 people on board- including 19 of the 22-man squad.

Chapecoense were on their way to the biggest game in their history, the Copa Scudamericana final against Colombian side Atletico Nacional, and the incident threatened to destroy the club entirely and shattered the hearts of a nation.

With support of other Brazilian sides and clubs around the world, Chapecoense have vowed to fight on and assembled an almost entirely new side for last night’s friendly with Barcelona at the Nou Camp – signing 25 new players and promoting nine from their youth team.

Chapecoense were in Catalonia to play in the Joan Gamper trophy match, an annual event held by Barcelona, but the result on the field was insignificant and it was instead a victory for football, whilst also remembering the 71 people connected to the sport that lost their lives.

Gerard Deulofeu, who made his return to the club in a 5-0 win, summed everything up with his comments after the game, where he said:

“They deserve this day, they are heroes. The truth is we all shed a tear for them after the disaster.”

Instead of being a meaningless friendly, last night’s match showed that football is more than just a sport and when it comes down to serious matters the game can unite together, regardless of rivalries, nationalities or upbringing.

Three moments in particular stood out from the match, as crash survivors Neto and Jakson Follmann kicked-off the match and defender Alan Ruschel, another survivor, captained the side and received a standing ovation in the second-half when he was substituted.

The timing of the match also feels significant on the eve of the new season, as it shows what’s truly important and that, when it comes down to it, winning or losing within 90 minutes is irrelevant within the grand scheme of things.