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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Atletico Nacional: Chapecoense should be given Copa Sudamericana title

ESPN Brazil's Rubens Pozzi expresses just how big a loss Chapecoense is to the world of football.
Fans gather outside the Chapecoense stadium to pray for all those affected by the tragedy.
Real Madrid and Barca are examples of only a few teams lending their support and thoughts to Chapecoense.

Colombian club Atletico Nacional have asked CONMEBOL to award fellow finalists Chapecoense with the Copa Sudamericana title after a plane carrying the Brazilian team crashed en route to Colombia on Monday night.

A chartered plane transporting the Chapecoense team and personnel to Medellin's international airport in Colombia with 77 people aboard crashed on Monday night, killing all but six people.

The club, from the small city of Chapeco, were in the middle of a fairytale season. They joined Brazil's top flight in 2014 for the first time since the 1970s and last week reached the Copa Sudamericana final after defeating two of Argentina's fiercest teams, San Lorenzo and Independiente, as well as Colombia's Junior.

Atletico Nacional said they have asked CONMEBOL to give the title to their opponents under the tragic circumstances.

"Atletico Nacional have invited Conmebol to deliver the Copa Sudamericana title to the Chapecoense Football Association as an honour for their great loss and in posthumous homage to the victims of the tragic accident that has our sport in mourning," a statement said.

"For us, and forever, Chapecoense shall be the Copa Sudamericana champions for 2016."

The Colombia side have asked their fans to show up at their home stadium, Atanasio Girardot on Wednesday evening wearing white and holding a white candle in a show of support for the crash victims. They have also requested that fans donate blood for the six victims. 

The Copa Sudamericana is South America's secondary competition, below the Copa Libertadores, involving clubs across the continent. The final is played across two legs, with each team typically hosting one leg at their home stadium.

The plane carrying the Chapecoense football club crashed in Colombia on Monday night.

Some of Brazil's top clubs have also said they want to give players to Chapecoense on a free loan for the 2017 season.

They also say the club should not be relegated to the second division for three years as it recovers from the disaster, though details of how this would work financially were not immediately floated.

Chapecoense are safe from relegation in the Brazilian Serie A this season, in ninth place with one game remaining.

In further homage, Brazilian champions Palmeiras made a request to the Brazilian Football Confederation to wear Chapecoense's jersey in their last match on Dec. 11.

Chapeco are so modest a club that their 22,000-seat arena was ruled by Copa Sudamericana organisers to be too small to host their home leg of the final, which was instead moved to a stadium 300 miles to the north in the city of Curitiba.

International players and teams alike, including Barcelona stars Neymar and Lionel Messi, sent messages of condolence to the families of the victims.

Follow @ESPNFC on Twitter to keep up with the latest football updates.

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