Chapecoense were still very much underdogs up until 2014, still without their own training ground. The club director, João Carlos Maringá, received no pay or even travel expenses. Still, by hiring untried but hungry players and taking on discarded members of other teams, they’d reached 11th place in Série A by 2016. Then, incredibly, a tie against Argentina’s San Lorenzo earned the team a place in the Copa Sudamerica final. And that achievement brought them even more adoration from their local fan base.
On the evening of November 28, 2016 – the day that was to shatter so many dreams – the Chapecoense team boarded chartered flight LaMia 2933 from Santa Cruz in Bolivia to José María Córdova International Airport in Colombia. They were due to play the biggest match of their history there, against Colombian side Atlético Nacional. And the general atmosphere aboard the plane was one of elation and excitement.
Aboard the flight were 22 players and 23 staff members, as well as 21 journalists and two guests. Out of the 77 people on the plane, however, only six would survive what was to come. And another four, who were supposed to be on board but missed the flight and were initially presumed dead, would also be haunted by the events to come.