Barcelona’s traditional curtain-raiser, the Joan Gamper Trophy, took on emotional significance with the visit of Chapecoense, the Brazilian team who lost most of their playing and coaching staff in an air crash on November 28, 2016.
The plane carrying Chapecoense to the Copa Sudamericana final, first leg against Atletico Nacional crashed into mountains outside Medellin, Colombia on Nov. 28 after running out of fuel, killing 71 of the 77 people on board.
Barca invited Chapecoense to contest the traditional friendly, named after the club’s Swiss founder, 10 days after the crash, offering half the proceeds from the game to the Brazilian club in addition to making a donation of 250,000 euros ($294,875.00) to help the club’s reconstruction.
The Liga side won 5-0 with goals from Gerard Deulofeu, Sergio Busquets, Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Denis Suarez.
The players who survived the crash – Helio Neto, Jakson Follmann and Alan Ruschel – were given a separate tribute as they walked out of the tunnel at the Nou Camp after the teams emerged, while volunteers held up a heart-shaped banner in Chapecoense’s green and white colours.
Defender Ruschel was playing his second game since suffering spinal injuries in the crash and wore the captain’s armband, kissing the Nou Camp turf before the game began and raising his hands to the air in tribute to his fallen team mates.
The historic rivals will meet again twice on August 13 and 16 in the Spanish Super Cup and the International Champions Cup match set the entertainment bar high, with Barcelona maintaining their 100 per cent record in pre-season.