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Revisiting the story of Chapecoense: One of football’s darkest moments in recent history 🇧🇷💔


In November 2016, one of the darkest tragedies one could ever imagine came true.

Brazilian football team Chapecoense were on their way to Medellin to play the biggest match in their history when the plane carrying the team crashed; only six of the 77 people on board survived.

How is the club doing nowadays? Where are the surviving players now? Keep reading as we look back at the tragic story of Chapecoense and remember the lives lost, 7 years on from the tragedy.

Tragedy is one of the few things in life we cannot prepare for, no matter how much we may try.

On November 28, 2016, Brazilian football club Chapecoense boarded a plane in Bolivia.

They were on top of the world. In the club’s 44-year history, they had qualified to the Copa Sudamericana finals for the very first time, doing so by defeating Argentine club San Lorenzo on away goals a week prior.

They had also just closed out their Série A season a day before against champions Palmeira, finishing in 11th place. They competed in Brazil’s top flight for the first time since 1979 in 2014 and had now managed to remain in the division for a third consecutive season.

Now, it was time to face off against Colombian side Atlético Nacional to solidify what had been a fairy tale run.

But it wasn’t to be.

LaMia Flight 2933 - a plane that was carrying 77 people, including the majority of the first team squad - went down in the evening, just as it was approaching its destination of Medellin, Colombia.

Fuel starvation due to an unsuitable flight plan by the airline was the ultimate reason for the crash, and official reports later confirmed that the pilot’s poor decision making also played a factor.

The plane was about 11 miles away from the airport when it ran out of fuel.

In this 38th edition of the Plei newsletter, I look back at the sad story of Brazilian club Chapecoense, and how they have been holding up since the 2016 tragedy. I also take the time to remember the 71 lives that were lost. 👇

Global impact

Tragedies like these are far from common, but the football world came together like never before in the aftermath.

The hashtag #PrayForChapecoense quickly began trending, and many clubs around the world showed their support across social media as well as in person.

Clubs would hold minutes of prayer and silence before training sessions and matches, and they would even use pre-match shirts dedicated to the Brazilian club.

In January 2017, Brazil and Colombia hosted a friendly to raise awareness and help victims of the crash.

EA Sports also paid tribute, giving all FIFA 17 players the kit and badge of Chapecoense to wear within the Ultimate Team game mode.

Perhaps the most notable tribute of all was Barcelona’s decision to invite Chapecoense to take part in their annual Joan Gamper Trophy friendly match in August 2017.

The three surviving players - left-back Alan Ruschel, goalkeeper Jakson Follmann and center-back Neto - were given ovations by the crowd at the event.

Ruschel was the only one that played, and he captained the side for 35 minutes in his first match back since the incident.

The Catalan club was the first to help Chape financially, according to president (at the time) Plinio David de Nes Filho. They sent the club €250,000 to help the rebuilding process.

Teams in Brazil’s Serie A contributed b loaning players to Chapecoense in order to help them get back on their feet in time for the 2017 season.

Where are Ruschel, Follmann and Neto now?

Against all odds, Neto was informed by doctors that he would eventually be able to play football again. The center back spent two years recovering from the injuries he succumbed from the crash and returned to training in March of 2019.

But he would never actually take the field, and ultimately made the tough decision to retire later that year, citing nonstop pain as the reason.

Immediately after his December 2019 retirement, Neto became the football superintendent of Chapecoense, and continues in this position today.

Jakson Follmann's situation was a bit different. He sustained career-ending injuries in the crash and was forced to have one of his legs amputated as a result.

Fortunately, the ex-goalkeeper has been able to find a new career path and lifestyle, this time in music.

As a kid, I had two big dreams. Becoming a footballer came first. Then fate brought what it did, and now I'm living my second dream thanks to music.

Follmann in a 2021 interview

Being one of his biggest passions since childhood, he didn’t hesitate to turn to music - as well as his Christian faith - to get him through the tragedy.

Follmann makes Brazilian country music - known as sertanejo - and even participated as a contestant in reality TV show Popstar in 2019 after he had recovered from his injuries.

What’s more is that he won the entire competition.

Alan Ruschel, meanwhile, was the most fortunate one. He just nearly avoided career-ending back injury and was able to continue playing football after a full recovery.

After featuring in the 2017 Joan Gamper Trophy - his first match since the incident - he continued to play football. He would continue at Chapecoense until 2021, most notably making 27 appearances as captain in the 2020 season to help Chape become Série B champions and return to the Brazilian top flight.

Since leaving Chape, he has played for four different clubs in Brazil. In 2023, he rejoined Série C side Juventude, where he began his career back in 2009.

Chapecoense in present day

Chapecoense were forced to rebuild completely from scratch, a process that was far from easy, given the circumstances.

Today, the team competes in the Série B, Brazil’s second division, and most recently completed the 2023 season in 16th place.

It hasn’t always been heartbreak since the incident, though.

After the controversial decision was made for Chapecoense to continue operating as a football club, they played out a solid 2017 season with a brand-new squad. They ended that year in eighth, their best finish yet since their 2013 promotion.

They also won the Campeonato Catarinense for the second year in a row.

The 2018 season wasn’t as notable, as they finished in 14th. Nevertheless, they continued to remain in the Série A.

Their luck would run out in 2019, as Chapecoense were relegated to the Série B after six seasons in the first division.

But with survivor Alan Ruschel as captain, the side went straight back up, lifting the Série B trophy in 2020. They also managed another Campeonato Catarinense trophy that year.

Unfortunately, they’d go right back down the following year, and have yet to come close to promotion since then.

Despite their recent lack of success, Chapecoense will forever be backed by their loyal fanbase. We won’t be surprised to see the club one day return to the Série B and achieve even more.

Forever in memory

I wanted to go ahead and use this final section to remember the lives that were lost in the plane crash, over 7 years on from the tragedy.

All the names have been listed below, categorized accordingly.


Ailton Cesar Junior Alves da Silva (Canela), 22
Dener Assunção Braz (Dener), 25
Marcelo Augusto Mathias da Silva (Marcelo), 25
Matheus Bitencourt da Silva (Matheus Biteco), 21
Mateus Lucena dos Santos (Caramelo), 22
Guilherme Gimenez de Souza (Gimenez), 21
Lucas Gomes da Silva (Lucas Gomes), 26
Everton Kempes dos Santos Gonçalves (Kempes), 34
Arthur Brasiliano Maia (Arthur Maia), 24
Ananias Eloi Castro Monteiro (Ananias), 27
Marcos Danilo Padilha (Danilo), 31
Filipe José Machado (Filipe Machado), 32
Sérgio Manoel Barbosa Santos (Sérgio Manuel), 27
José Gildeixon Clemente de Paiva (Gil), 29
Bruno Rangel Domingues (Bruno Rangel), 34
Cléber Santana Loureiro (Cléber Santana), 35
Josimar Rosado da Silva Tavares (Josimar), 30
William Thiego de Jesus (Thiego), 30
Tiago da Rocha Vieira Alves (Tiaguinho), 22

Head coach:

Luiz Carlos Saroli (Caio Júnior), 51

Club president:

Sandro Luiz Pallaoro

Club staff:

Pipe Grohs
Anderson Paixao
Anderson Martins
Dr. Marcio
Cleberson Silva
Chinho di Domenico
Plínio D. de Nes Filho
Nilson Folle Júnior
Decio Burtet Filho
Edir de Marco
Ricardo Porto
Mauro dal Bello
Jandir Bordignon
Davi Barela Davi


Victorino Chermont (Fox Sports)
Rodrigo Goncalves (Fox Sports)
Devair Paschoalon (Fox Sports)
Lilacio Junior (Fox Sports)
Paulo Clemente (Fox Sports)
Mario Sergio P Paiva (Fox Sports)
Guilher Marques (Globo)
Ari Junior (Globo)
Guilherme Laars (Globo)
Giovane Klein (RBS)
Bruno Silva (RBS)
Djalma Neto (RBS)
Adre Podiacki (RBS)
Laion Espindula (Globoesporte)
Renan Agnolin (Radio)
Fernando Schardong (Radio)
Edson Ebeliny (Radio)
Gelson Galiotto (Radio)
Douglas Dorneles (Radio)
Jacir Biavatti (Radio)

Flight crew:

7 out of 9 crew members passed. After much research, I was unable to find their names.


Delfim de Pádua Peixoto Filho (Delfim Peixoto), CBF former vice-president, 75
Luciano Buligon
Gelson Meisao

May they all continue to rest in peace.

That’s it for the 38th edition of our newsletter! 😅
How did you like it? Let me know by messaging me via email at [email protected] or by sending us a text. 📲
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