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The Brazilian player union has paid tribute to footballers and officials of Chapecoense and thanked the football community for their messages of solidarity following this week's tragedy.

FENAPAF staff personally knew the team's coach Caio Junior and many of the players who died in a plane crash on the way to play the final of the Copa Sudamericana in Medellin, Colombia. 

 

They had met with one of them as recently as last week to discuss his contractual rights.

“It is a tragedy that has affected not just us but the whole of Brazil,” Felipe Augusto Leite, the president of FENAPAF, said.

He said the union is now looking to help the families of the victims where possible. The Brazilian government is assisting with funeral arrangements and clubs agreed to donate the receipts from the last round of the championship.

"Chapecoense was and is an exemplary club: they always complied with all the legislation and treated their players respectfully,” Leite said. "When we find clubs like that, we are very grateful.

"It's one more reason to be sad about this tragedy.”

Leite thanked FIFPro and unions who have contacted the Rio de Janeiro-based union with messages of support since the accident on Tuesday.

“We appreciate all the solidarity from FIFPro and the other unions who have made contact with us,” Leite said. “We have had calls from Guatemala, Chile, Colombia and Argentina to name a few.”

FENAPAF, founded in 1990 by players including Zico, is made up of 18 regional unions. Marcelo Cruz, the president of the union in Santa Catarina, where Chapecoense is based, is scheduled to attend the funeral of the players, Leite said.

The Brazilian union released a statement on the day of the tragedy, which FIFPro publishes here:

“Today is the saddest day in the history of Brazilian football. We are searching for an answer for a tragedy like this.

“We have no words to express our pain. We hope that families and friends find the strength to carry on with dignity and peace.”

Theo van Seggelen, FIFPro president, said staff at the international union were also shocked by the accident.

"We send our deepest condolences to the victims' families and all our friends and colleagues in South America who have been touched by this."