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Letter to the Editor, by Felipe Marujo Grabowsky,

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – On Monday, the 28th November, Brazil stopped. Actually, the whole world stopped. The plane crash carrying Chapecoense’s whole soccer team is one of the world’s largest soccer tragedy and of the largest moments of grief in Brazilian history. All around the world, people, governments and clubs prepared tributes to the 77 passengers on the plane.

I, as a passionate Brazilian soccer fan, grieved as never done in my life, and, feeling warmth by the tributes, reflected on the devastating effects of the tragedy for the association, family and friends of the passengers.

However, what shocked me on the aftermath of the debacle were the unfortunate, sentiment lacking declarations. How can we not talk about those? Particularly, the vice president of SC Internacional , drunk on insensitivity, complained about the delays of the last round of the national championship. In his words:

“We have our particular tragedy (…) This delay will certainly be prejudicial (…) But the delay will bring about problems that we’ll later have to comment”. (Lance!)

This is not how you honor the death of 71 human beings.

This year has certainly been devastating to the club from Porto Alegre. It was, for the first time in its history, relegated to the second division of the national championship. However, one cannot equate the plane crash to their problem, which is minimal compared to the loss of a whole soccer team.

Being relegated is a consequence of ineffective planning, of the VP himself, while Chapecoense’s tragedy was an accident that cost human lives. By comparing both situations, the VP directly diminishes the lives human beings, in addition to being egocentric by looking at the consequences of the tragedy on his club and not on the directly affected. When a person does that, people need to react. Something is wrong.

In fact, this is the VP of the club that appealed to the Brazilian national soccer tribunal to try and remove points from another club for allegedly using a player irregularly, in order to help their fight against the descent. After the case being archived for lack of validity in Internacional’s claim, the Brazilian Soccer Confederation is now suing the club for falsifying documents in the case.

This represents the disastrous face of Brazilian soccer, through which people try to unjustly benefit themselves by all means possible. Remarkably, in the 2013 national championship, Flamengo and Portuguesa lost points in the championship for the irregular use of players, and a justice battle arose from that case.

While the former team continued in the first division, the latter was relegated because of the loss of points, and is now in the fourth division, with the chance of losing its stadium.

It is frightening to see soccer run over by corporate greed. By being removed from Brazil during the crash, I suffered of alienation – surrounded by people who did not know of the collision’s significance. I managed to, however, neutrally reflect on the matter, being away from the epicenter of the catastrophe.

A club, exemplary of professional integrity and hard work, lost all its players, its presidents and staff. A country, moved by passion of the sport, lost some of the best media members on the subject. If this shouldn’t be a time for reflection, what is?

SC Internacional’s stance represents the loss of humanity in soccer. How can you justify to Danilo’s (Chapecoense goalkeeper) mother, who became a symbol of strength in the country, that the chance of a team going down to the second division, is a comparable tragedy to her son’s death.

Other associations practiced the same heartless actions. “Catraca Livre” tried to win audience by exploiting the situation and spreading ironic news on plane crashes, and some people threatened the pilot’s widow.

Soccer involves passion for the teams, for the sport and for the fans. With competition all-time high, people forget their human side, what binds us all together. People place money, status and popularity over other’s feelings. But not all hope is lost. You do not need to follow these egotistic examples.

Former Chapecoense’s opponent Atletico Nacional fans filled up their stadium to chant Chapecoense songs. Conmebol, the South American Soccer Confederation, awarded the Cup title to the lost team. Media coverage in Brazil was exemplary, with thorough coverage on the subject, and great displays of empathy. “Jornal Nacional ended its program with a deafening clap by all the workers.

All those professionals in the plane were doing something they love, for the love of the sport, to unite and inspire fans all around the world. So let them inspire us. Let’s join forces; forget about championships, divisions, nationalities, just like these organizations did. Let’s think of the people who died with passion for what they did, of their families, friends.

The minimum we should do is forget our personal problems. To honor the professionals who died, and to always remember them.

Felipe Marujo Grabowsky

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