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Chapecoense opponents win FIFA fair play award

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Colombian executive and chairman of Atletico Nacional Juan Carlos de la Cuesta (R) holds The 2016 FIFA Fair Play Award next to former Spanish football player Carles Puyol during The Best FIFA Football Awards ceremony, on January 9, 2017 in Zurich © AFP / Fabrice COFFRINI

ZURICH, Switzerland, Jan 10 – Atletico Nacional collected the Fair Play prize at Monday’s FIFA awards ceremony after the Colombian side requested Chapecoense receive the Copa Sudamericana title following a plane crash that decimated the Brazilian club.

Chapecoense were flying to Medellin ahead of the first leg of the final when their plane crashed in the Colombian mountains on November 28, killing all but six of the 77 people on board.

Nineteen players and 24 other club members perished as the accident tragically cut short their dream of playing in Chapecoense’s first major final.

Atletico subsequently asked for their grieving opponents to be awarded the title, with South American football’s governing body granting the request a week later.

Fans of both sides paid tribute to the victims as thousands, dressed in white and holding candles, piled into Atletico’s stadium for the originally planned kick-off to grieve together and mourn those lost.

“It’s still a difficult time, it was a big final and the tragedy struck our opponents, it’s an indescribable moment, very hard to manage,” said Atletico president Juan Carlos de la Cuesta upon receiving the award from former Barcelona and Spain defender Carles Puyol in Zurich.

“We’ve tried to manage this situation in the most dignified way possible.”

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