The Brazilian side experienced an end to the season they have never had before
Chapecoense has been relegated from Brazil’s Serie A for the first time in the club’s history after a 1-0 home loss to Botafogo at Arena Conda – a day before the third anniversary of the 2016 plane tragedy which took 71 lives.
Rhuan’s 53rd minute goal condemned Chapecoense to the drop with three matches to play, as they sit nine points from safety in 19th position.
Theoretically, Chapecoense could catch 16th-placed Ceara but they still can’t get ahead with the competition’s first tiebreaker being games won.
Club captain Douglas found it hard to speak publicly after the team’s demise was confirmed.
“It’s a delicate moment, hard to find words in this situation,” he told Premiere FC.
“We players are very sorry to leave Chapecoense in this situation, but Chapecoense has always shown unity.
“I think this is the time for the whole community to unite again, rearrange things, leave everything on track for Chapecoense to return to Serie A, which is the club’s place, and continue to build this beautiful story.”
Having reached the Brazilian professional leagues via their promotion to Serie D in 2009, Chapecoense has risen through the divisions since without previously being relegated.
They made it to Serie A for the first time in 2014 and finished 15th and 14th in their first two top-flight seasons.
Tragedy struck on November 28, 2016, as a plane carrying 77 people, consisting of almost the entire first team, managerial staff and journalists, crashed in Colombia, with only six passengers surviving the impact.
The club had been due to play in the Copa Sudamericana final against Athletic Mineiro prior to the plane clash, but had the title and prize money awarded to them by default a week later.
Chapecoense enjoyed a club best eighth-placed finish in the Serie A in 2017, with a squad that was initially made up of loan players, free signings, youth players and two survivors from the plane crash.
After their relegation, the club will compete in Serie B next season – a division they only spent one season in after getting promoted following a second-placed finish in 2013.