The football world has been united by shock and grief following the plane crash involving Brazilian team Chapecoense on Tuesday.
All but three of the travelling playing squad from the team died from their injuries. They were a rising force in South American football after impressively rising through the divisions in recent years.
Here are five facts about the club which has been so devastatingly affected as a result of Tuesday’s events.
1) They were formed in 1973
Chapecoense came about as a result of a merger between two local teams in the city of Chapeco, Atlético Chapecoense and Independente.
It took just four years for the newly-formed club to win their first trophy, with Chapecoense getting their hands on the Santa Catarina State Championship in 1977.
2) They were in Brazil’s fourth tier as recently as 2009
Several years of poor performances throughout the 2000’s meant Chapecoense were in Serie D going into the 2009 season.
An escape from the doldrums was rapidly followed by more success, with consecutive promotions in 2012 and 2013 securing their place in the top tier. Chapecoense have since established themselves in Serie A, as well as achieving continental success.
3) They were travelling to play in a continental final
The Copa Sudamericana is South America’s equivalent of the Europa League, and Chapecoense had overcome some tough obstacles to reach the two-legged final against Colombian side Atletico Nacional.
Chapecoense knocked out prestigious Argentinian sides Independiente and San Lorenzo en route to the final, with the togetherness and team spirit within the squad evident throughout those narrow wins, one of which was on penalties and the other on away goals.
4) They have been dubbed the ‘Brazilian Leicester’
Their rise from a provincial side to one fighting for domestic and continental titles saw comparisons emerge with Leicester City; indeed, the team’s manager, Caio Junior – who lost his life in the crash – made the comparison himself in September.
Quoted by The Guardian, he said: “Our team really reminds me of Leicester, a team from an unfancied city that was able to win an important title. I want to make a mark this season with this club, this group of players.”
5) They had just secured their highest ever finish in Brazil’s top flight
As a team who had never finished in Serie A’s top half before, ninth place in 2016 represents an excellent achievement for Chapecoense. They could yet have finished higher, as they were sat just one point behind Gremio with one league match left prior to the crash.
They had secured qualification next season’s Copa Sudamericana, and the 2016 season was the latest positive step in their impressive rise. The fact their journey as a team has been so tragically cut short has affected football around the world, and put a lot of the more trivial aspects of the sport firmly into perspective.