Colombia plane crash: history of air disasters involving soccer teams

Tragedy involving Brazilian Chapecoense club reminiscent of Munich and other tragedies

Members of Brazilian football team Chapecoense were among the 81 people on board a chartered plane that crashed on approach to Medellín, Colombia from Bolivia, killing 76 people. Video: Reuters


A chartered plane with Brazilian first division football team Chapecoense has crashed in Colombia while on its way to the finals of a regional tournament, killing 75 people.

Chapecoense had been flying in to face Atletico Nacional of Medellin in the first leg of Wednesday’s Copa Sudamericana final, South America’s equivalent of the Europa League.

The following are other air disasters that have involved football teams:


The plane carrying Italian club side Torino back from a match against Benfica in Lisbon crashed into the Superga hill during its approach to Turin airport. All 31 on board were killed, including the 18-strong squad, devastating the finest team in the club’s history.

Shortly afterwards, Torino went on to win a fifth Serie A title in a row, although they have only it once since then, in 1975/1976.


Eight Manchester United players were among 23 people killed when their plane crashed on takeoff from Munich following a technical stop. The flight was taking them back to Manchester from a European Cup match in Belgrade. The 21 survivors included Bobby Charlton, who was 20 at the time and went on to become one of England’s finest players, winning a World Cup medal in 1966.


Eight Danish footballers, on their way to a trial to select the Denmark team for the Rome Olympic Games soccer tournament, were killed when their plane crashed into the Oresund strait after takeoff from Copenhagen. Denmark went on to win the silver medal.


Players from Bolivian team The Strongest were among 78 people killed when the flight carrying them from the lowland city of Santa Cruz crashed at Viloco, near La Paz.


Seventeen players and coaching officials from Pakhtakor Tashkent were among 178 killed when the flight taking them to a Soviet league match at Dinamo Minsk was involved in a mid-air collision over what is now Ukraine.

Pakhtakor were the only team from present day Uzbekistan to play in the top flight of the Soviet league.


Sixteen players from Peruvian league leaders Alianza Lima, plus officials and coaching stuff, were among 43 killed when a flight bringing them back from a championship match in Pucallpa crashed on approach to Lima airport. Only the captain survived.


Fourteen Dutch footballers of Surinamese heritage were among 176 people killed when Surinam Airways flight 764 crashed on its approach to Paramaribo after a flight from Amsterdam. The footballers played for different professional teams in the Netherlands and had formed a team called “The Colourful 11” to play exhibition matches against local side in the South American country.


All 30 people on board a chartered Zambian Air Force flight, including 18 players from the country’s national team, were killed when it crashed into the sea off the coast of Gabon shortly after taking off following a refuelling stop. The team was on its way to Senegal for a World Cup qualifier.

Kalusha Bwalya, the team captain and now president of the Zambia football federation, was not on board as he was travelling to the game separately.

In 2012, Zambia won the African Nations Cup for the only time, beating Ivory Coast on penalties in a final played in Libreville just a few kilometres from the crash site.

– Reuters