Chapecoense denies Conmebol pressure over chartering Lamia plane

Chapeco (Brazil), Dec 2 (IANS) The Chapecoense football club has denied that there was any type of pressure exerted by the South American Soccer Confederation (Conmebol) in chartering the plane from Bolivia’s Lamia Airlines to transport the team to Colombia, adding that it was selected for technical reasons.

“What remains clear is that the chartering came about for technical reasons because Lamia has all the requirements that Chapecoense sought for its international trips,” the club’s communications director, Andrei Copetti, said on Thursday at a press conference at the Arena Conda Stadium, reports Efe.

Copetti remarked that one of those criteria was “the quality of the aircraft,” which had already been used “for the British royal family.”

“It’s a plane with all the conditions for making medium-distance trips, with all the necessary safety conditions,” he added.

The plane crashed, however, on Monday evening on approach to Medellin airport, killing 71 people, including 19 players with the soccer club, who were en route to Colombia to play the first of a two-game set against Colombia’s Atletico Nacional for the Copa Sudamericana title.

Six people survived the crash: three players, a journalist and two crewmembers.

Traveling on board the aircraft were 28 Chapecoense officials, members of the technical staff and invited guests of the Brazilian club, along with about 20 journalists and nine crewmembers.

In addition, Copetti revealed that it was the company itself which offered its services to the club upon seeing that Chapecoense was participating in the Copa Sudamericana and would be making international trips around the continent.

“They sought us out and offered their services. That was analysed in the club in connection with a series of requirements that the logistics department has and Lamia was decided upon for technical reasons,” Copetti said.

The chartering was handled by three people working for the Brazilian club — the logistics director, the administrative director and the president — who all were aboard the plane and died in the crash.

“We’re going to make it very clear: There is no indication that Conmebol (or) the City Hall are implicated. Lamia has experience in transporting soccer teams, it’s transported the Argentine team, the Bolivian team and up to … 30 teams,” said Copetti.

–IANS

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