120,000 to attend Chapecoense players’ funeral

Rio de Janiero: Around 120,000 people, including celebrities, politicians, athletes and journalists are expected to be at the Saturday funeral of the Chapecoense footballers and coaches.

Nineteen players, most of the club’s training staff and a number of journalists and guests were killed in the Monday plane crash in Colombia, that saw a death toll of 71.

The funeral would be held on the grass of Arena Conda, Chapecoense’s home ground in Chapeco. It is expected to be the largest event ever held in the city of 200,000 people, Xinhua news reported.

“It will be one of the largest gathering ever seen in the city. 20,000 people will be inside the stadium and 100,000 will follow the ceremony on screens outside it,” said Deputy Mayor Elio Francisco Cella.

“This is all very painful but Chapeco will overcome,” said Cella at a press conference.

Access to the stadium would be restricted to the families and friends of the victims and not to general public.

Coach Caio Junior would be buried in his home of Curitiba, while the remains of team captain, Cleber Santana, would be sent to his family in Recife.

Three planes of the Brazilian airforce were in Medellin, Colombia, to collect the bodies and bring them home.

The bodies were expected to arrive in Chapeco on Saturday morning.

FIFA president, Gianni Infantino, Brazilian national coach, Tite, and representatives from a number of foreign clubs along with around 1,000 journalists from Brazil were expected to attend the ceremony.

Clubs from Brazil’s first division and around the world have all offered to loan players to the club for free.

The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) also announced that Chapecoense would not face relegation from the top division for the next three seasons.

All football matches were suspended for seven days.