Bogota: Chapecoense had recently broken into the top tier of Brazilian football and were preparing to play in their first final of South America’s major club competition.
It was a small club in the middle of a fairytale season – until the plane carrying them crashed in Colombia.
Chapecoense were founded in 1973 in the city of Chapeco, in the state of Santa Caterina, southern Brazil. The team went on to win the state championship within a few years, and would add a few more. But big-league football eluded them for a long time.
Then, in 2014, it entered Brazil’s first division, the Serie A, for the first time since the 1970s, and this year it made the finals of the Copa Sudamericana – South America’s equivalent of the Europa League.
The team were filmed celebrating in the locker room after it defeated, against the odds, Argentinian powerhouse San Lorenzo de Almagro in the Copa semi-finals.
Goalkeeper Danilo, a 31-year-old journeyman, made headlines for stopping San Lorenzo from scoring.
They were the underdogs in what would have been the final against Medellin’s Atletico Nacional. The first leg was due to be played on Wednesday.Atletico Nacional, which was going for a rare double after winning the Copa Libertadores in July, expressed its sorrow and solidarity after the incident.
Chapecoense were the 21st biggest club in Brazil in terms of revenue. They brought in 46m reais (£10.8m) in 2015, according to an annual rich list.